Chad: A Country in Crisis
Tuesday, June 22, 2010Author:
Micah is an independent photojournalist and writer represented by Redux Pictures, who has documented and brought attention to major world issues throughout Africa, the Middle East and the US. He has spent the last five years focusing on human rights, the global food crisis, refugee’s, the internally displaced and issues of migration, gender-based violence, public health and insecurity.
If there is a single nation in Africa that has gone abruptly from the most brilliant of prospects for the next quarter century to the darkest, it is Chad. Despite the start of oil production in 2003, an investment of $3.7 billion by a consortium of foreign oil companies headed by ExxonMobil, and the construction of an oil pipeline bankrolled, in large part, by the World Bank, Chad remains the world’s fifth poorest country. Some 80 percent of the population live below the global poverty line, while the nation’s per capita income is less than $1,500 a year.
But perhaps most disturbing for the next quarter century for one of the nations that could be an anchor of West Africa, is the rampant corruption that has stymied every effort at development. Tied with Guinea and Sudan as the world’s sixth most corrupt country by Transparency International, the World Bank froze it’s funding of the oil pipeline project when the government reneged on its pledges to devote 80 percent of the revenue to development projects. Instead, vast amounts of funds have been poured into the arms trade that fuels the on-again, off-again civil war which periodically sweeps the country.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria kills nearly one million people each year, and many deaths go unrecorded in rural areas. Moreover, this figure is still rising. Chad’s maternal mortality rates are the world’s third highest, and more than 80 percent of the women face female circumcision. And each year, as the rainy season ends, rebels are on the move from the east, where tens of thousands of refugees from the even more beleaguered Darfur region of Sudan and the Central African Republic languish on overcrowded refugee camps.
REFUGEE TOWN / IRIBA
Iriba, Chad – Makeshift towns like this one in eastern Chad have sprung up along its boarder with Sudan. International aid groups working among the refugee camps have set up shop in an otherwise arid and very inhospitable location. With the promise of work, people from all over Chad try to make their way to these newly sprung up towns to be the next driver, guard, or cook for one of the many NGO’s. “It’s making our long-term exit strategy even more difficult,” says a worker for UNHCR “we are providing these little mini-economies to a region that wouldn’t otherwise have people.”
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.1
LISTENING / SOUTHERN CHAD
Women in Southern Chad participate in a village discussion on family and parenting; put on by the UNFPA.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.2
INTERNAL AMBASSADORS / TOULOUM
Abraham Solomon (right) and Ahrmad Baraka (left) are part of a group of over 40 men inside the Touloum Sudanese refugee camp dedicated to antiviolence specifically to gender based violence within the family. “The only good that has come from this genocide is that we’ve learned from the violence. We feel that we have come out of the dark and learned a new way. After this violence ends in our region we will be able to go back home and it will be a better place.”
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.3
REFUGEE CAMP / KOUKOU
Scene in camp.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.4
CLASSES / TOULOUM
A group of Sudanese refugee woman in the Touloum camp in Chad, listen to a weekley 'woman empowerment class'. This weeks topic is about the rights of a child. These soon to be moms and existing moms, hear for the first time that their children posses certain unalienable rights recognized by the international community. Child soldier recruitment remains a huge problem in east Chad both for rebel groups and the Chadian National Army. With few opportunities for income, some of the kids even volunteer to be part of certain rebel resistence groups to earn money for thier families.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.5
BORE HOLE / KOUKOU
KOUKOU, CHAD - The internally displaced at a UNHCR site in south Chad gather water.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.6
EARLY MARRIAGE / ABECHE
ABECHE, CHAD – Khakeidja Hamat just arrived in Abeche for another fistula surgery attempt. At 24 years old, Hamat has suffered 11 years of pain and humiliation. In Chad and neighboring sub-Saharan nations, early marriage is ingrained into their culture and remains the source of traumatic fistula problems throughout the region for young girls. At only 13 years of age, Hamat suffered through 3 days of labor in a remote village near the Sudan boarder with the baby stuck for a day and a half; eventually the baby died and Hamat fell into a coma. Because her family heard about a clinic that could help with her coma and fistula, they took her by camel for 6 days to reach it, only to have an unsuccessful surgery attempt. A year later her husband took her to Libya for another attempt. When that surgery failed, Hamat’s husband left her and she went back to Chad. 11 years and 6 surgeries later, Hamat has high hopes in the new fistula clinic in Abeche and is looking “to healing and getting back to her village with respect.”
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.7
STRUGGLING / N'DJAMENA
N’DJAMENA,CHAD – Coming from the remote desert village, Liliene Naima was not able to take advantage of the state-run HIV program – highlighting the need for home based care and training of lay midwives in the village. Liliene is just one of over 30 woman dying of HIV/AIDS in this clinic, some seem just minutes away from succumbing to the virus.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.8
COUNTING / KOUKOU
UNHCR begins the task of doing the demographic census for the ever-growing IDP site in the East Chadian village of Koukou.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.9
GATHERING WOOD / KOUKOU
Koukou, Chad - Gender based violence (GBV) remains an ongoing problem in both the refugee camps and IDP sites. As women need to travel further and further into the outlining areas to gather firewood, they face a greater risk of being raped.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.10
EARLY MARRIAGE / N'DJAMENA
N’DJAMENA, CHAD – While pregnant mothers wait in line for pre-natal counseling, they watch a video on forced marriage and female circumcision – a major problem in Chad where more than 80% of woman face female circumcision.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.11
PROTECTION / IRIBA
IRIBA, CHAD – Despite having a growing E.U. military presence in east Chad, humanitarian aid groups still rely on splinter Sudanese rebel groups to protect their convoys to and from the refugee camps. The rebel groups resistant to Khartoum, use the opportunity to make a few extra dollars and resupply arms. The groups have also been criticized because of child soldier recruitment in the camps as well as occasional car jacking.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.12
REFUGEE CAMP / IRIBA
IRIBA, CHAD - Massive numbers of refugees from Sudan's Darfur region and Central African Republic lead a harsh existence in camps in eastern and southern Chad. The presence of refugees has put added pressure on scarce water and food resources in the semi-desert east. Armed Sudanese and Chadian groups roam freely across the border, targeting aid agencies as well as villagers. The insecurity makes it hard for agencies to operate in the area, and violence has escalated since the collapse of a short-lived October 2007 peace deal between the government and four rebel groups. Some experts say Chad's conflict is part of a competition for regional dominance in which Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Rwanda and Uganda are all vying for influence.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.13
REFUGEE CAMP / KOUKOU
Scene in camp
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.14
VCT / BONGOR
BONGOR, CHAD - Youth-run HIV/AIDS ceter provides voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) to a population with a relatively unknown HIV prevelance rate. Stigma runs high and early WHO esitmates are indicating rising rates in the South of Chad.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.15
PRENATAL CARE / DOBA
DOBA, CHAD - Prenatal care is a concern among Chadian national hospitals, as the maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world and rising.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.16
OIL / UNDISCLOSED, SOUTHERN CHAD
Libya is Chad's biggest petroleum importer, and the country is Africa's fourth largest exporter. The Government has been accused of using funds from a $4.2 billion World Bank-financed pipeline to Cameroon to fund an unceasing series of wars within and along its violent borders.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.17
GADDAFI HOTEL / N'DJAMENA
N’Djamena, Chad – Despite their ten year history of conflict and war over their shared border, Libya’s Gaddafi recently built what he calls a “five star hotel” in N’Djamena directly across from Chad’s parliament. Libya also is Chad’s biggest oil importer despite being Africa’s fourth largest exporter of crude, thanks to a 2003 World Bank backed $4 billion, 1,000 km pipeline through Cameroon to the Atlantic.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.18
CLASSES / IRIBA
IRIBA, CHAD – Wanting to expand the group to more men in the Touloum camp, UNFPA supports weekly meetings for other members of the Zaghawa tribe to come and learn about the importance of education against gender based violence.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.19
DISPLACED / KOUKOU
Koukou, Chad - Displaced Chadians also face shortages of food, water, shelter and adequate sanitation. Their situation gets worse during the annual "hunger gap" before the September harvest. They have been attacked when trying to return home to plant crops or collect food. Here, internally displaced children from the Koukou IDP site (25,000 people) play in the waning days of the rainy season.
Photograph by Micah Albert / © Micah Albert. All Rights Reserved.20
Displaying 4 Comments
Added Fri, Jul 30, 2010 - 12:04 am by TL Bradley
Congrats on the feature. This is wonderful.2
Added Fri, Jul 16, 2010 - 09:28 am by Victor Acquah
One of the goals of African Lens is to serve as a platform of advocacy - for stories that need to be told. This is one of them. Hopefully, this story will generate enough interest to spur more action / help towards the street kids here.3
Added Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 04:17 am by Thomas
What a beautiful report story !! Congratulation for your job.4
Added Tue, Jun 15, 2010 - 01:02 pm by Marcello
This is an awesome Photo story! Thanks for sharing it, currently only watched the photos, but definitely wanna read it!5