What Choice Do We Have?

Another influx of refugees into Chad has created a vigorous debate of where to host them.

Unlike nomadic groups who settle in areas where they have access to water and land to graze their livestock there is no such freedom of choice for refugees. A dramatic flight from their own homes leads them to a new and foreign country where they find themselves vulnerable and out of place.

I was struck by this thought as we travelled across a part of eastern Chad and one of my colleagues pointed out a village that had settled within the last few years, strategically close to a water source and a transport route. There are not the same choices open to refugees.

As the debates continue in Chad over where to house the new refugees it is interesting to follow the dynamics of the decision-making process. Basic human rights need to be met; water, food, sanitation etc, and this vulnerable group of people must be protected. Yet with over 12,000 people having crossed the border in the last two months they cannot easily be integrated into existing refugee camps and their presence is putting pressure on local villages and their resources.

Negotiations to find a new place for these new arrivals are ongoing; to find land for them is complicated and requires government approval even before some of the basic needs of this group can be met. They will be placed somewhere and a new camp created, another movement of people, another place to live temporarily, and very little choice in it all.

Far from home these vulnerable families and individuals are struggling to make their way in a new place. And it seems like the journey is not over yet.


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