The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. West Africa
  4. Chad

NGOs scale back as security deteriorates

MINURCAT convoy from Goz Beida to refugee camp in Goz Amir
(Phuong Tran/IRIN)

As the security situation continues to deteriorate in eastern Chad, some NGOs are scaling back and cutting services due to the risk of kidnapping.

Since the end of November, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has pulled its international staff out of a site in Dogdoré where 27,000 Chadians displaced from fighting are living. International MSF staff still visit the site every few weeks for several hours at a time, but do not stay overnight, its head of operations, Xavier Trompette, told IRIN.

“The nature of incidents has changed and we feel exposed. We are not reassured about the security situation, so we have taken our [expatriates] out,” said Trompette. “This means there is a deterioration in the quality of care we can offer.” He added that MSF has discontinued its mobile health clinics.

In November a government official working with Darfur refugees and an NGO driver were killed, and a French agronomist working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was kidnapped. ICRC has suspended most of its activities in the east.

The non-profit Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) will no longer post international staff to Goz Beida, 220 km south of the aid hub town Abéché, as of January 2010. “We are going onto a remote control project, which means we don’t have an [expatriate] running it. It’s run only by national staff,” country director Samuel Cumpsty told IRIN. The NGO’s engineer based in Abéché will go on short trips to visit water projects in Goz Beida.

“We’re not comfortable because most of our engineers come from France and we know the kidnap risk is particularly high,” said Cumpsty. He said ACTED is evaluating whether to withdraw completely from the east.

UN agencies and dozens of NGOs are providing services to more than half a million refugees and displaced Chadians in the east.


The UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) said in November that despite an increase in attacks on humanitarian vehicles in recent months, no military-escorted convoy had been targeted. But on 20 December, four plain clothed armed men along the road from Goz Beida to Koukou Angarana in southeastern Chad commandeered at gunpoint one of three civilian vehicles in a MINURCAT logistics convoy travelling with a local security escort, according to MINURCAT.

While UN agencies are required to use military escorts when traveling outside cities, escorts have been optional for NGO partners.

The head of International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Chad, Philipe Adapoe, told IRIN that IRC is being forced to reconsider its stance against travelling with armed escorts, which some NGOs say compromise their neutrality.

“Humanitarian principles [or non-association with armed groups] are one thing, but this situation is going beyond principles. We know there are not enough soldiers to provide [sufficient] escorts. For us the question is: is the current system capable of giving us the security we need to allow us to continue?” said Adapoe.

MINURCAT’s deputy commander, Ger Aherne, told IRIN no security force can alone guarantee security in an area where “one of the biggest problems here is impunity and the footprint of the state is not seen strongly enough in the east.”

The government’s military representative to NGOs, Yaya Oki Dagashe, dismissed concerns of banditry and said the national army is in complete control of the region.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.