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Sudanese refugee woman and girl sitting outside crude shelter made of blankets and sheets.
Threat of hunger


The International Rescue Committee provides vital support to local communities and refuges in Chad grappling with displacement and lack of adequate access to food and basic services.

Country facts
  • Total population: 15.8 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 706,000
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 186 out of 188
IRC response
  • Started working in Chad: 2004

Chad crisis briefing

Located in the Sahel region of Africa, Chad is grappling with regional refugee crises in addition to seasonal droughts and flooding that destroy crops and threaten millions of people with hunger.

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What caused the current crisis in Chad?

For more than a decade, Chad has been a home to refugees. In 2004, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees from Darfur poured into eastern Chad, where many remain more than a dozen years later.

Due to escalating conflict in neighboring Central African Republic, thousands have fled to southern Chad. In addition, the ongoing Boko Haram conflict in the Lake Chad Basin region has caused mass internal displacement and an influx of refugees fleeing the violence.

Chad is also struggling with the drought and food insecurity that is affecting the entire Sahel region.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Chad?

Widespread drought and food insecurity remain a major challenge in Chad, affecting some 3.4 million people, including 1.6 million in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 320,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, another 40,000 from moderate acute malnutrition.

Chad must also cope with severe drought and flooding that potentially could affect 2.7 million people, according to the United Nations.

The strong potential for cholera and measles epidemics, combined with a weak state-run health system, contribute to the morbidity and mortality of the population, particularly among children under age 5.

How does the IRC help in Chad?

The IRC began working in Chad in 2004 in response to the arrival of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad, providing health, nutrition, water and sanitation, women’s protection and empowerment, and education services. Today, the IRC continues to provide these services to both local and refugee populations in three refugee camps in eastern Chad, in addition to health, women’s protection, and livelihoods support in three returnee sites in southern Chad.

Since 2010, the IRC has addressed the drought and food insecurity crises in the Sahel by providing health, nutrition, livelihoods and health services in the Guera and Bahr el Ghazal regions. Working in collaboration with district authorities, the IRC supports over 68,575 children under age five as well as pregnant women and new mothers.  

The IRC also works with refugee and returnee communities in eastern and southern Chad to educate both women and men about family planning while respecting clients’ privacy, voluntary choice and confidentiality.

As drought and widespread food insecurity continue to plague the country, the IRC is:

  • providing emergency relief;
  • providing primary and reproductive health care, hospital referrals and psychosocial counseling;
  • screening children to prevent acute malnutrition and provide 24/7 medical treatment to those severely malnourished;
  • providing clean water to Darfur refugees at Ouré Cassoni camp in the Sahara Desert;
  • educating communities and maintaining early warning systems to prevent disease and enable health workers to respond swiftly to outbreaks;
  • raising awareness of the benefits of family planning;
  • working with communities to address the root causes of violence against women, as well as providing medical care to survivors of violence;
  • providing primary and secondary education to refugee children in eastern Chad;
  • providing economic support through cash grants, financial literacy training and farmer assistance.

What still needs to be done?

The violent seven-year conflict originating in Nigeria has intensified in the last three years and spread across borders into Chad, Niger and Cameroon, causing a growing humanitarian crisis in a region known as the Lake Chad Basin. Read recommendations from the IRC and other aid groups working in the region in our Sep 2016 policy paper: "Lake Chad's unseen crisis."

Download the IRC Chad strategy action plan to learn more about our program priorities through 2020.


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