Following the continued clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Chad, the President has ordered the Chadian army to shoot both herdsmen and farmers dead, if the clashes continue.
Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno gave the order to the country’s army, saying the move is to save what he described as “the majority.”
According to him, the army can shoot ten persons from each side- to save the majority.
He said if the army comes to the places where there is fighting between herdsmen and farmers, the army should assemble ten members of both the herdsmen and the farmers and shoot them dead.
Clashes between farmers and herdsmen this August left at least 50 dead.
But President Deby declared a state of emergency in two eastern provinces where the fighting is frequent as well as authorising summary shootings to “save the majority.”
According to him, “From now, we will deploy military forces who are going to ensure the security of the population in the region,” Deby said while on a trip to Sila.
“We must disarm all the civilians who have weapons in their hands,” he said.
“If there is still fighting between Arabs and Ouaddaians… you shoot ten from each side to save the majority. You have authorisation,” Deby said.
Meanwhile, there has been an upsurge in violence and influx of guns into the country lately but the president, in April, blamed the trend on neighbouring Libya, Central African Republic and Sudan.
But he said the government had created a special task force unit to disarm the people.
He however lamented that despite the ongoing disarmament, that the influx of weapons into the country has continued even on the higher level.
According to him, “The government has created special disarmament units. We take away the weapons, but the next day more arrive,” he said.
The president described the violence as a “national concern”, adding: “We are witnessing a terrible phenomenon.”
“Those with guns are not hesitating to shoot the police. We must wage a total war against those who carry weapons and are killing people,” he said at the time.
Cameroon and the Lake Chad Region – How to Stem the Spread of Cholera
The north of Cameroon is facing an outbreak of cholera, with an increase in the number of cases reported since May 2019.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams of health promoters, water and sanitation experts, medical staff and epidemiologists are working to prevent the outbreak from spreading – and to avoid another serious spike in cases like that which affected the Lake Chad region in 2018.
“The town of Pitoa has reported a dozen cases of cholera, including three deaths, in a short period of time – and these cases do not seem to be related to each other. The situation is particularly worrying, because it means that cholera has spread in the community,” says Justin Eyong, MSF epidemiologist.
Since May 2019, cases of cholera have been increasing in northern Cameroon, in Pitoa and in nearby Garoua, the capital of the region, but also further north in villages located in Kaélé health district.
In 2018, the countries neighbouring Lake Chad were struck by several outbreaks of the disease, which affected more than 45,000 people and killed more than 900.
MSF responded in Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, supporting the local health authorities to provide care for more than 30,000 patients and to vaccinate more than 550,000 people.
Now, MSF teams have returned to the region to prevent this latest epidemic from getting out of control.
“Cholera is a serious and highly contagious disease that can cause death within 24 hours if not treated,” says Dr Jean-Patrick Ouamba, deputy medical coordinator with MSF.
Cholera is a serious and highly contagious disease that can cause death within 24 hours if not treated Dr Jean-Patrick Ouamba, deputy medical coordinator with MSF
Understanding the underlying causes
As the MSF team arrived in Pitoa, local health authorities had already begun to investigate the situation by questioning people presenting with symptoms of the disease on their recent movements, diet and other activities.
“It was found that almost half of the cases had contact with dubious water sources: probably contaminated water used to wash clothes or dishes, or wells dug near contaminated latrines,” explains Justin Eyong.
Alphonse Elogo, water and sanitation specialist, and Hadidjatou Bidisse, an MSF health promoter, were able to identify potentially contaminated water sources by talking to local people in these areas.
This epidemiological investigation allows teams to target the response to the outbreak – in particular, the organisation of health promotion activities in the community on good hygiene practices, the disinfection of water sources and the organisation of vaccinations.
The importance of vaccination
“When it comes to cholera, targeted prevention – including vaccination – is a priority. Of course, there is also a need to prepare for treatment of patients because the disease can very quickly be deadly. But this does not replace the importance of prevention, which aims to prevent the spread of the disease beyond the first cases,” says Dr Jean-Patrick Ouamba.
In early August, a vaccination campaign was organised in the region of Garoua by the local health authorities.
“This should help stem the spread of the epidemic, but not all affected areas have been vaccinated. This is particularly the case in Kaélé health district, where cases have been recorded regularly since the end of June 2019,” says Dr Jean-Patrick Ouamba.
There is a need to prepare for treatment of patients because the disease can very quickly be deadly, but this does not replace the importance of prevention Dr Jean-Patrick Ouamba, deputy medical coordinator with MSF
In Kaélé, as well as in Pitoa, MSF teams are working to educate patients, their families and caregivers, medical staff and the population in general about the disease.
Community members in at-risk areas are regularly informed about preventive measures to pass on to their communities: washing hands before meals and after using the toilet, treating water before use, washing vegetables and fruits before eating and adequately cooking all meals.
With the support of other humanitarian organisations, more widespread health promotion activities are planned.
“We are also considering the disinfection of some water sources and will make a call for improved access to clean drinking water in the long term,” explains Alphonse Elogo, MSF water and sanitation specialist.
Supporting health facilities
In addition to prevention, MSF has rehabilitated three health facilities in Garoua, Pitoa and Midjivin (in Kaélé health district) and provided the facilities with equipment and staff training, to support the treatment of cholera patients. Some facilities are being directly assisted by MSF staff.
MSF’s medical teams maintain a heightened level of vigilance in the north of Cameroon, as well as in the neighbouring state of Borno, northeast Nigeria, and in the regions of Mayo-Kebbi East and Mayo-Kebbi West in Chad.
Cholera in the Lake Chad Basin
Cholera, a serious and highly contagious disease that can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, is endemic in the Lake Chad Basin. Without adequate treatment, the disease can rapidly prove fatal due to severe dehydration.
Cholera is transmitted through contact with the stools or vomit of people infected with the disease, namely through poor hygiene practices, including not washing hands after using the toilet, or ingesting contaminated food or water.
In the rainy season, floods increase the risk of transmission of the disease. Poverty and population displacements related to insecurity in the Lake Chad region are also aggravating factors for the spread of cholera.
Many people in this region live in precarious conditions in close proximity to others, without access to clean drinking water or adequate sanitation. In addition to this, local health systems are weak or often affected by conflict.
Chad: An Epidemiological Response to Cholera in the Lake Chad Basin
The rainy season arrived several weeks ago in West and Central Africa, bringing with it seasonal diseases. Cases of cholera have already been identified in northern Cameroon, where Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is carefully monitoring the situation. A team of epidemiologists in Dakar is supporting MSF in response to this latest outbreak and other regional epidemics. Epidemiologist Franck Ale explains the challenges of their work.
What is the epidemiological situation of cholera in the region today?
We have observed cases of cholera in Cameroon since the beginning of March 2019. These cases are most likely linked to the last epidemic that spread across the country in 2018 – the end of which was never officially declared.
With the first rains in the beginning of May, we noticed a strong increase of cases with a high mortality.
The Ministry of Health has begun responding, and MSF teams on the ground are also on alert – supporting the response of local health authorities in Garoua city and in the nearby health district of Pitoa, where we intervened last year, as well as in the health district of Kaélé (in the North and Far North regions of Cameroon).
The outbreak is officially declared in Cameroon, as well as in the state of Adamawa, in northeast Nigeria. However, we remain highly vigilant in neighbouring regions, especially in Borno state, in northeast Nigeria, and in Chad.
Conflicts in the region continue to cause the movement of populations and weaken sanitation systems and hygiene conditions – conditions under which cholera can easily spread Franck Ale, epidemiologist
Can you tell us more about last year’s cholera epidemics in the same area?
In countries like Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, cholera is endemic and regularly occurs during the rainy season.
The Lake Chad region, which intersects all three countries, is an especially ideal environment for cholera: there have been regular epidemics in the area since 1971.
Investments have been made to address these outbreaks, ranging from cross-border collaboration, to strengthening surveillance in the surrounding countries and building response capacities involving public health actors of different specialties.
But conflicts in the region continue to cause the movement of populations and weaken sanitation systems and hygiene conditions. Unfortunately, these are conditions under which cholera can easily spread.
Last year, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon reported many cholera cases. The first cases were observed in northern Nigeria and were linked to the conflicts and movement of the population in this area.
Movement of people within and between countries can easily cause an epidemic to spread. In Cameroon, there were even suspected cases detected in the capital, Yaoundé.
Today, we have the medical and public health arsenal to stop such an outbreak in a secure area, where communication and community health promotion resources are available.
However, it is more complicated when there is a combination of aggravating factors, like population displacements, weakened sanitation systems, and low access to water in particular.
Ways must then be found to quickly identify outbreaks and negotiate access, despite the security conditions, to respond quickly.
Last year, by monitoring what was happening in Nigeria, we were able to warn MSF teams in Cameroon of the arrival of the first cases in an area of the north Franck Ale, epidemiologist
How can we improve our response to epidemics?
West and Central Africa alone accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of the world’s cholera burden, according to the Regional Cholera Platform for West and Central Africa.
Organisations working in this region should make every effort to improve the detection and fast confirmation of cholera outbreaks, to respond more efficiently – especially in conflict areas.
In conflict contexts, preventive vaccination is essential in the areas surrounding an outbreak zone, for both internally displaced people and host populations, to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
For this to be possible, however, an emergency preparedness plan is needed – in which, for example, there is the possibility to pre-negotiate access to the vaccine and make it available in the area.
It is also essential to maintain a high level of epidemiological vigilance, in order to quickly identify new outbreaks of disease.
Vaccination is a very effective way to stop cholera epidemics, but it can only be done if the areas at risk are quickly identified.
Rapid laboratory confirmation of these cases is also a big challenge, especially in areas where insecurity and lack of laboratories make it more complicated.
Access to rapid screening tests is essential, as these tests allow fast identification of cases. This is necessary to formally declare an outbreak and to allocate the necessary resources to respond to it.
In conflict contexts, preventive vaccination is essential in the areas surrounding an outbreak zone, for both internally displaced people and host populations, to limit the risk of the disease spreading Franck Ale, epidemiologist
What role does epidemiology play in an epidemic like this?
Epidemiological investigation can identify the causes of an epidemic and guide strategic responses.
The two key tools are surveillance – which makes it possible to quickly identify the first cases and to follow the geographical evolution of cases – and investigation, which involves investigating how each patient contracted the disease, to identify the people and places most at risk (such as contaminated water sources) and to organise targeted responses. These responses could include vaccination, as well as health promotion and water and sanitation activities.
Part of this work is done by epidemiologists in the field, in collaboration with the health authorities.
Our team contributes a regional perspective and can follow the evolution of epidemics across borders, sometimes where MSF has no ongoing activity. This is based on data made available by states or other actors on the ground.
Last year, by monitoring what was happening in Nigeria, we were able to warn MSF teams in Cameroon of the arrival of the first cases in an area of North Cameroon, where MSF has no regular activity. This enabled us to respond quickly.
From Dakar, we can also exchange information on cholera with the Regional Cholera Platform for West and Central Africa, and therefore contribute to a faster global response.
It is important that the independent voice of MSF be included in the discussions so that realities on the ground are taken into account.
In 2018, several cholera outbreaks were declared in West and Central Africa. Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria were particularly affected, with more than 45,000 cases and more than 900 deaths registered.
Cholera is indeed endemic to this region, especially to the Lake Chad Basin, where poverty and displacement of people due to insecurity worsen the situation.
MSF supported the local health authorities in the treatment of 10,500 patients and the preventive vaccination of more than 550,000 people in the three most affected countries: Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.
From Dakar, teams carry out epidemiological surveillance on endemic diseases such as cholera, measles and meningitis on an ongoing basis, to support the work of teams in the field.
Africa: Terrorism Survivors – Forced to Farm, Fish, Fight, ‘They Slaughtered Three of My Friends’
To mark next week’s International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, UN News travelled to Chad and the Far North region of Cameroon in West Africa earlier in the year, to interview people who have personal stories to tell about how terrorism has shattered their lives.
In 2015, the island of Ngomiron Doumou in Lake Chad was attacked by armed extremists who said they belonged to the outlawed Boko Haram group. The island is home to some 5,750 people. Up to 300 men, women and children were abducted at gunpoint by Boko Haram fighters who had travelled to the island from Nigeria. Twenty-five-year-old Kedra Abakar is one of around 100 people who made it back to the island. Here is his story.
“My name is Kedra Abakar. I am 25 years old and live on Ngomiron Doumou island. I was 21 when Boko Haram invaded my island; they created confusion and fear. Many neighbours fled, but those who were unable to do so, maybe 2-300 people, were rounded up. I was one of those people. We were kept under a tree and they slaughtered three of my friends in front of us. It was terrible. We were told that if we didn’t go with Boko Haram, the same would happen to us. We were very fearful.
We were taken to Nigeria by Boko Haram. We had three duties; farming, fishing and fighting for Boko Haram. I had to fight when it was my turn. I was given a gun and told to attack a village – I was forced to do this – If I refused, they would have killed me. I did shoot my gun, but I do not know if I killed anyone.
I spent two painful years with Boko Haram and I was not happy. I looked for an opportunity to escape but knew if I was caught, I knew I would be killed, so I was very scared. In the end, I was able to flee. I took a canoe at night time on the shore of Lake Chad. I was not able to come directly to Chad but had to travel through Cameroon.
The United Nations is committed to supporting people who have been attacked, abducted, injured or traumatized by acts of terrorism wherever they are in the world. Ahead of the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism marked annually on 21 August, read more here about how the UN is showing solidarity with victims and survivors.
When I think of the time with Boko Haram, I am very unhappy. Only 100 of the 300 people who were taken, have returned to the island. Many died in the fighting and some are still there; those who believe Boko Haram is a good thing.
My advice to other young people is to understand that Boko Haram is very bad. I tell them that they must remain in the village if they can. We were cheated by Boko Haram as we did not know any better.
My community has welcomed me back. Whatever I needed they gave me. I hope that in the future there will be a school on the island, so people can be educated and not fall under the spell of Boko Haram.
Central Africa: Six People Killed By Female Suicide Bomber in Lake Chad Area – Chadian Army
A suspected Boko Haram female suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the early hours of Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring several others in western Chad, according to a Chadian army officer who did not give his name.
“In the early morning hours, a female kamikaze and member of Boko Haram entered the courtyard of the head of Tatafiromou canton, where she detonated her vest, killing six people, including a soldier,” the officer told Agence France Presse.
The attack was confirmed by a local non-governmental organization, which did not want to give its name for security reasons.
The attack took place in the village of Kaiga-Kindjiria, an area on Lake Chad where attacks have escalated since the beginning of the year.
The larger Lake Chad region has seen an upswing in attacks since June 2018 — about a dozen have been carried out by suspected Boko Haram militants, usually in areas where there are army positions.
According to the United Nations, 1.8 million people have been displaced, including Nigerians in northeastern Nigeria, fleeing across Lake Chad to safety from Boko Haram. Lake Chad is located on the border of western Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger.
Some 27,000 people have died since Boko Haram began its terror campaign in northeastern Nigeria in 2009.
A multinational joint task force comprised of 5 countries fighting Boko Haram has been patrolling the area since 2015.
West Africa: Protect, Support and Empower Girls in Lake Chad Region
United Nations — As Lake Chad enters its 10th year of conflict, millions of young girls are being used and manipulated in grotesque ways.
Maria Sole Fanuzzi, Lake Chad Child Protection Specialist at Plan International, said: “New York City has 8.25 million people, so when we talk about the girls in the Lake Chad crisis, you have to imagine the whole city where we are now is completely filled by children, and half of that would be girls.”
She was speaking at an event co-hosted last week by the Permanent Mission of Belgium, the Government of Niger, and Plan International.
Spanning across Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, the Lake Chad crisis is a complex one, attributed to extreme poverty, climate change, underdevelopment, and attacks by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which garnered international attention with the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Nigeria in 2014.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), says the Lake Chad region (specifically in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger) is struggling with “the compounded impact of climate change, deep poverty, and violent extremism.”
A report by Plan International has revealed that over 15% of girls aged 10-19 had been married at least once or were currently married. As a result, the levels of girls’ education have drastically decreased.
With this, there is a severe lack of information concerning sexual and reproductive health. The Lake Chad basin has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths anywhere in the world, with about 773.4 deaths for every 100,000 successful births.
“Conflicts and disasters amplify this relative powerlessness of girls,'” said Sole, pointing out that the crisis affects girls disproportionately, where they are faced with situations, such as the deprivation of basic needs, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices such as trafficking, forced as suicide bombers and child marriages.
Those that survive and do manage to return home are confronted with discrimination and stigmatization from their communities and are even accused of witchcraft, she said.
“They are considered to have somehow absorbed the demon of the enemy- to have somehow given their consent,” she explained.
“And for the children in there that might have conceived during their captivity are unwanted, unrecognized and chased away.”
Sole went on to narrate the story of a girl from Cameroon who stated that “If a girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, and no matter if we consent or not, it is a sign of terrible doom, that will fall on her house.”
She then described a case two months ago where a girl had been abused, and thus conceived out of wedlock returned home only to be rejected for “bringing shame to her house.”
Still, “some important initiatives have been taken,” Sole announced.
These initiatives include strengthening of social and emotional learning; building confidence; fostering relationships; harmonizing with their communities to build safe environments; economic empowerment and adequate education. However, it is important to educate the boys as well, she noted.
“The engagement of men and boys is crucial to tackle gendered social norms. the change cannot happen if masculinity continues to be seen as the affirmation of a predominance over the other gender,” Sole told IPS.
Boys and men get raped constantly in the world, and conflict all the more exasperated the exposure and the impact of this phenomenon.
“They are exploited as child workers, they are trafficked, and when they are deprived of sexual and reproductive health rights they are also deprived of their own right to a positive fatherhood,” she added.
“After all, the gendered norms that prescribe masculinity as an aggressive form of domination deprive also men and boys of that peaceful coexistence that eventually turn into the many males dominated wars we see worldwide. So, no wonder that statistics show that more equal societies are also more peaceful ones.”
“Boys and girls do share a common destiny and as much as we recognize the different perspectives of one and the other our ultimate goal is to empower both of them to live free from oppression and free to express their own human personality to the fullest and greatest extent,” she declared.
“We need to look at adolescents for what they are- humans.”
Asked what role Plan International will have going forward, Jessica Malter, Senior Communications and Advocacy Advisor at Planned International, told IPS: “Plan International is committed to working together with international partners and local entities to advance girls rights in the Lake Chad Basin and worldwide”
She further noted that they are working on developing integrated programs “that address the complex and interconnected issues affecting adolescents, such as lack of education, child marriage, early pregnancy, child labour and sexual exploitation and that
“We cannot continue to address these issues with single-sector responses or ad-hoc interventions.”
She also stressed the importance of incorporating the young generation stating that “including young people in the decision making that impacts their lives is absolutely critical, and note that
“We still do not sufficiently listen to young people, and particularly not adolescent girls who are often invisible”, said Malter.
“It is rare though, that girls are given the opportunity to express their views.
That said, they do have a way of tackling the issue.
Malter said “one way we are addressing this is with the Girls Get Equal, which is a global campaign that provides girls and young women the tools and resources they need to demand power, freedom and representation. age disaggregated data, to strengthen evidence and better inform programmes.”
Asked about what surprised her the most about the survivors she encountered, Sole said: “The most striking thing in almost every encounter is to see how incredibly resilient girls and boys are. They face the unspoken, some of them have witnessed the slaughter of their own parents, almost all of them are mothers to their younger siblings, and yet you can see a strength to restart and to rebuild their lives that is uncommon in most of our wealthier societies.
“Girls agency is something that can be at times challenging, but the recognition of this factor is the only way to trace back the logical, historical and societal meaning into the events that we witness and within which we move.”
“Girls and women cannot be confined to the role of the victims and need to play a major role into the rebuilding of their own lives whenever conflicts have broken the flow of their existence and shaken their previous foundations.”
With this is mind, it will be a victory to watch the growth and success of these children if/ when it happens.
“They are the beginning and the end of their own history making.” Sole concluded.