As of December, 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 400,000 refugees in Chad. Most (nearly 80%) have come from Sudan, fleeing violence in the Darfur region that started in 2003. Others came from the Central African Republic, from civil war outbreaks in 2013 and 2017.
While many of the refugee families have been in the camps in Chad for as many as 15 years, repatriation to Darfur is next to impossible. Returning refugees risk persecution, including torture, arbitrary incarceration and denial of humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian community has begun to transition their efforts from emergency protection to ensuring the self-reliance of refugees and integration into the local community.
Education is critical to enabling these refugees to be self-reliant and productive citizens in Chad. Yet the majority of children in the camps do not have access to education. Only 44.5% of school-age children in the camps are registered to attend school. And many of those who are registered do not attend. Their schools are overcrowded and meet outdoors, in harsh conditions and without latrines, so many parents are reluctant to send their children.
We are therefore focusing on this relatively forgotten situation, filling in the one resource that can take them from mere survival to a hopeful future of independence. School buildings are only the first step. Over time, we intend to help our “on the ground” partners to address other barriers to education, such as low retention rate among students, lack of qualified teachers and insufficient educational materials.