A. Executive Summary
Chad is situated at the confluence of concurrent and overlapping conflicts in the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, Western Darfur, and the Central African Republic. Chad’s post-independence history from France has been marked by political instability and violence. Recently, the difficulty of the situation has been compounded by the Boko Haram insurgency.
With the discovery of oil reserves, the agrarian economy transitioned into being heavily dependent on oil. The GDP grew by 3.2% in 2019 but is expected to experience a sharp decline with the falling oil prices, regional insecurity, and the effects of COVID-19. Despite its progress in poverty reduction between 2003 and 2011 from 55% to 47%, Chad has one of the highest levels of hunger in the world: 66.2% of its total population lives in poverty. In 2019, it had a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.398, and it is ranked 187th out of 189 countries. The country is ranked last on the World Bank Capital Index – which means that a child born in Chad today will be 71% less productive in adulthood than a child who receives a quality education and benefited from appropriate health services.
Despite its dire economic situation, Chad remains one of the countries in the region that receives thousands of migrants because of its central position. For example, as a result of the post-electoral violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad currently hosts about 11,000 refugees from CAR. While conflict within the region that swells the number of migrants in Chad, natural disasters and inter-communal conflicts contribute immensely to the growing number of internally displaced persons within the country.
B. Country Profile
I. Basic Information
Chad is a landlocked country at the heart of Central Africa, and it is the biggest country in the region, with a surface area of 1.284 million square kilometres. It is as vast as France, Germany, and Poland put together. Chad is bordered to the south by the Central African Republic, to the west by Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, to the north by Libya, and to the east by Sudan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 16,425,859 people. Its official languages are French and Arabic, which are spoken widely across the country, as well as Sara in the South. All in all, more than 120 different languages and dialects are spoken in the country. It is an indigenous polarised society with more than 100 ethnic groups. A majority of them are the Sara (Ngambaye, Sara, Madjingaye, and Mbaye), which make up 30.5% of the population. The Sara are followed by the Kanembu, Bornu, Buduma (9.8%) and Arab (9.7%) populations. The other ethnic groupings make up 7% or less of the total population. In terms of religion, 52.1% of the population is Muslim, 23.9% Protestant, 20% Roman Catholic, 0.3% animist, 0.2% other Christian, 2.8% none, and 0.7% unspecified (2014-2015 estimates). The North of the country is predominantly covered by desert and is sparsely populated. The majority of the population resides in the Southwest, especially around Lake Chad.
II. International and Internal Migrants
Many areas of economic attractions bring Chadian migrants together. For example, although access to gold mining areas in northern Chad has been banned, it remains a point of attraction to many Chadians and foreign nationals. Other factors that precipitate internal movement include business trips, and travellers re-joining family members for festivities (particularly Ramadan and Christmas). There are essentially three provinces which are home to considerable migrant populations: Borkou, Tibesti, and Moyen-Chari. The provinces of Ouaddaï, Batha, and Ennedi-Ouest are home to medium to low numbers of migrants. Many nomadic groups in Chad migrate both nationally and beyond Chadian borders in search of food for their livestock. This movement occasionally creates conflict between sedentary farmers and pastoral grazers over resources – particularly in Mayon-Chari, a province in southern Chad. According to figures from host countries’ national statistical agencies (censuses or administrative records), roughly 336,802 Chadians are living abroad. A majority of them live in Sudan (196,164) and Cameroon (95,527). In Europe, according to data collected by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) from the Ministries of the Interior of Greece, Italy, and Spain, over 700 Chadian migrants have arrived in these three countries since the beginning of 2016. Most of the migrants in Italy reportedly lived for more than a year in Libya before crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The main route which connects Abeche to N’Djamena is an essential link joining West Africa to East Africa. Migrants from Chad heading to North Africa or Europe take a wider range of routes to reach Niger or Libya. Mao is the crossing point for Southern Chadians who are trying to reach the Mediterranean Coast.
III. Emigration and Skilled Migration
Developed countries in the global migration market select freely which people should be admitted, and what skills they should have in their receiving countries. This process persists unabated without any reference to the countries of origin who have invested heavily in the human capital of these migrants. The exodus of highly skilled and educated talent is affecting Chad’s ability to compete and grow on the international stage. The most recent data on qualified or skilled migrants from Chad dates back as far as 2000 and 2001. There were approximately 5,836 highly skilled persons living in OECD countries from Chad between 2000 and 2001. Because of shortages of skilled professionals in the country, especially in the health sector, the government of Chad has partnered with other international organisations to lure its qualified personnel abroad to come back home. An association of nearly 200 Chadian highly skilled diaspora professionals came together and formed the “Groupe d’entraide à l’enseignement supérieur et à la santé au Tchad” (GESST) developed a project in collaboration with the IOM and the government of Chad to map Chadian healthcare. Through a joint project of the IOM, UNDP, GESST, and the government of Chad aimed at strengthening public health and higher education sectors services in the country, the Chadian diaspora in France has been mobilized to come back home. By 2013, the project has facilitated the return of 14 qualified Chadians previously living in France, including an anaesthesiologist, a gastroenterologist, an orthopaedic surgeon, a digestive cancer specialist, a biomedical engineer, and a research engineer.
IV. Forced Migrants (Internally Displaced Persons, Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Climate Displaced People)
Several conflicts in Chad and neighbouring countries have resulted in the significant movement of people to and within Chad.
Refugees in Chad mostly live in camps. There are an estimated 480,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Chad. As a result of the recurrent political instability in countries like Sudan and the Central African Republic, as well as the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria, these three countries account for the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in Chad. There are an estimated 345,579 refugees in 12 camps and one surrounding village from Sudan in the East of Chad. There are another 99,081 refugees in 6 camps and 16 surrounding villages from the Central African Republic in the South of Chad. There are 15,678 refugees in one camp from Nigeria in the Lake region. There are another 7,709 refugees from different nationalities in urban areas who reside in Chad.
Refugees in Chad are confronted with numerous challenges ranging from water crises to diseases (such as diarrhoea), and food security issues to further displacement as a result of internal insecurity, such as the intercommunal violence in the provinces of Sila, Quaddai, and Tibesti.
Amidst these challenges, Chad has made some progress with regards to the protection of refugees and asylum seekers in the country. The UNHCR has been active on the ground. In 2019, it provided 41,200 birth certificates to refugee and host community children, it submitted 1,600 people to resettlement countries for consideration, and 1,600 victims of recorded incidents of sexual violence were able to access available services in camps or refugee settlements.
Chad has embarked on a number of projects in order to uphold its commitment to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the Global Compact on Refugees, in partnership with United Nations, donor countries, and technical and financial partners. These projects include 108 schools and 10 vocational training centres located in 19 camps and refugee sites across the country, which were handed over to the Chadian government by partners that will allow refugee and Chadian children to study side-by-side in an effort for integration. Likewise, 12 agreements have been signed with public and private universities in order to include refugees within their system. The government of Chad and partners are working with the government of France to assign scholarships in higher education for refugees. Four scholarships for Master’s degrees were granted for two-year programs in 2018-2019 and five were granted in 2019-2020. There has been a presidential decision to issue free birth certificates for an estimated 120,000 refugees children of which 60% have been issued. There is also a signed agreement with the government for the integration of health centres located in 19 refugee camps and refugee sites across the country. Furthermore, over 200,000 refugees have received arable land to live and farm on it, through the “out of camp strategy” and “villagisation” that is underway in three refugee camps. Moreover, partnership with the government of Sudan has supported the repatriation of 3,824 Sudanese refugees to Sudan in 2018-2019. Similarly, this partnership enabled the voluntary return of 6,046 Chadian refugees from Sudan to Chad between 2017 and 2019.
An estimated 360,000 persons are currently displaced in parts of Chad. The current displacement is caused by protracted and recurrent attacks from non-state armed groups, notably Boko Haram from Nigeria, which accounts for the largest number of IDPs (342,000) in Chad, in addition to rapidly degrading climate and environmental conditions. Although the violence generated by non-state armed groups remains the main driver of displacement in large numbers, climate change is unavoidably aggravating tension in the region and nourishes communal clashes. In 2020, the Lake region recorded the highest rainfall in nearly 30 years, causing flash flooding of villages and fields destroying homes and crops. In August 2020, of the 11,764 persons displaced in Fouli, Kaya, and Mamdi in the Lake region, 36% of them were displaced as a result of flooding. The IOM provides 2,500 transitory and semi-permanent shelters to nearly 13,000 persons, as well as more than 2,700 non-food items, including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, clothes, and basic cooking equipment for 14,000 persons in the Lake region.
V. Victims of Human Trafficking
The Trafficking in Persons Report 2020 watch list ranked Chad in Tier 2, which signifies that Chad does not meet the minimum standards for the cancellation of human trafficking activities. As of 2020, very minimal efforts have been put in place to combat human trafficking in Chad, which has caused the country to maintain its position on the Tier 2 watch list for the past four years. Chad is considered a source, transit, and destination of victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking in Chad is predominantly internal, though there are aspects of international human trafficking recorded as well – mostly affecting women and children. Internal trafficking mostly involves parents entrusting children to relatives in return for promises of education, apprenticeship, goods, or money. In some cases, women and children are forced into involuntary domestic servitude or involuntary herding (shepherd children). Some of these children are forced into begging in urban areas (commonly known in Chad as “Mahadjirine”), working as agricultural labourers on farms, or working in gold mines. There are also cases of sexual exploitation, which are barely documented. Illicit networks of traffickers may force adult and child refugees, as well as internally displaced persons in Chad, to take part in commercial sex, as their population is vulnerable to trafficking based on their economic instability and lack of access to a support system.
VI. National Legal Framework
Chad has different legal frameworks regarding migration management.
At the domestic level, regarding regular immigration, Chad has regulations related to the entry, stay, and permanence of foreigners. In a move to enhance the protection and improve the living conditions of migrants and refugees in Chad, the country acceded to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in 2018, in line with the New York declaration on refugee and migrant. On August 2, 2011, Decree No 11-839/PR/PM/MAT/11 provided for the establishment, organisation, and powers of the National Commission for the Reception and Reintegration of Refugees and Returnees (CNARR). Article 15 of the Constitution of March 31, 1996, revised on the July 15, 2005, and amended in 2018, prescribes equal treatment for nationals and refugees. At the regional level, the relevant regulations for regular immigration and emigration reflect those of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), with the free movement of people as one of the key objectives. While it is true that the ECCAS passport is not effective, it is important to note that six members states of CEMAC (Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea) within ECCAS have instituted a common passport between themselves and there are no visa procedures or restrictions between nationals of these six countries. Chad has also ratified the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees Problems in Africa and it is a signatory to the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. Beyond the African continent, Chad is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.
The Republic of Chad adopted its first-ever asylum law on December 23, 2020, which will enhance protection for the refugee population in the country, estimated at more than 480,000. The law ensures refugees and asylum seekers fundamental protection, including freedom of movement, the right to work, and access to healthcare, education, and justice.
In an attempt to address the challenges related to human trafficking, in June 2018 Chad rectified ordinance No. 006/PR/18, intensifying its efforts to prevent, combat, and punish perpetrators of human trafficking and smuggling. In supporting the country’s efforts in this area, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provided training to 33 magistrates, gendarmes, and police, equipping them with a better understanding of the legal instruments on human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants.
VII. Main Actors
There are two main government ministries in charge of migration affairs in Chad. The first is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Integration, International Cooperation and the Diaspora, which is in charge of international cooperation on migration issues with Chadians living abroad. The second is the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, which coordinates the work of the National Commission for the Reception and Reintegration of Refugees and Returnees (CNARR) and is in charge of civil status issues.
The Catholic Church
The population of Chad is predominantly Muslim (52.1%). However, the Protestant and Catholic churches are also prevalent in the country, with 23.9% and 20% respectively. The Catholic Church has a series of projects that assist migrants and refugees in Chad, which include the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), UNAD – Caritas, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
JRS has been working in Chad since 2006, constituting one of the biggest missions of JRS globally. The JRS mission in Chad is particularly focused on education, child protection, and advocacy, predominantly in Eastern Chad – which is home to more than 300,000 refugees. In partnership with the UNHCR and BPRM, JRS implements a wide range of educational projects from pre-schools and nurseries to primary, secondary, and high school education, including classroom construction. As a result of its good relationship with the Ministry of Education, JRS Camps’ schools are being integrated into the Chadian public education system. In the higher education sector, JRS has developed a critical partnership with the University of Abeche, where refugee students are studying to earn their national teacher certifications. In its advocacy efforts to give visibility to the various difficulties faced by refugee and local girls in Chad, and to offer many girls an opportunity to express themselves, JRS has participated in the Luz de las niñas Campaign since 2019, in partnership with the NGO Entreculturas.
The vision of the National Union of Diocesan Relief and Development Association (UNAD – Caritas) in Chad is that of “striving for a society of justice and peace with men and women who are confident about their possibilities and strength, and who engage in concrete and fruitful activities to ensure their self-reliance.” UNAD – Caritas champions a life of dignity and love for all who live in Chad. Through its partnership with the International Centre for Development and Research (CIDR), co-financed by the European Union, UNAD – Caritas Chad provides for 38 health centres, 3 hospitals, and 6 Diocesan patient support centres, with supplies of equipment and medicine, and capacity building for health centre staff. Through this partnership, UNAD – Caritas helps in the coordination of health insurance organisations in Pala, Doba, and Sarh. In 2018, Caritas Denmark and its local partners launched a programme amounting to 7.5 million DKK to expand the present humanitarian operation to cover the development intervention for the rural poor population in eastern Chad and the growing numbers of refugees in that part of the country.
In ensuring food security and providing a source of livelihood, CRS partners with Secours Catholique Développement (SECADEV), the Chadian member association of Caritas in working with communities to promote economic recovery by providing training, tools, and seeds for farming. This project enhances production and increases income while significantly reducing hunger in Chad. In a move to foster social cohesion in communities where living together has been thwarted by inter-communal conflict (for example, the conflict in communities like Kouloudia and Makaraty over land ownership), CRS organises social cohesion workshops as part of its Stabilisation and Reconciliation in the Lake Chad Region (the STaR project). This 33-month project, implemented in Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the German Development Bank, KfW. Through the project, community-based facilitators are trained following the “Ties that Bind” approach. Alongside social cohesion, the STaR project also works to revitalise local economies through CRS’s savings and internal lending communities, with a special focus on women and youth. This tool helps individuals gain access to new sources of credit, which enable them to kick-start their business ventures. The Commission épiscopale Justice et Paix (CDJP) is a peace building initiative of the Catholic Church in Chad that runs many projects, including working in areas of peace building and education, fighting child trafficking, and assisting in the reconciliation process. CDJP aims to promote respect for human rights and dignity working with children, youth, legal defendants, prisoners, and religious leaders.
International and Local Organisations
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) maintains a strong presence in Chad. In collaboration with local partners and the government of Chad, the IOM is involved in various areas, including diaspora engagement, community stabilisation, humanitarian assistance, providing durable solutions for migrants and displaced population, the development of migration policy, immigration and border management, peace building and mediation, migration data and research, counter-trafficking, and transhumance management. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) assists refugees, asylum seekers, and community members in the areas, including education, health, food security and nutrition, protection, Emergency Food, and Livestock Crisis Response Project which aims to increase social cohesion, peaceful cohabitation and intercommunity dialogue between refugees, returnees, and host communities, through the development of project implementation teams. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the World Food Programme support and protect children, especially those displaced, uprooted, or trapped in violence with food, basic services, and education. Oxfam provides displaced persons with potable water and cash to cover their most basic needs, helps them to get birth certificates, and focuses on finding long-term solutions for the displaced population. Mercy Corps provides food aid to the vulnerable population (including refugees) and was also involved in raising awareness among the IDPs in Chad on the importance of participating in the 2019 general elections, through voter education. Medicins sans frontières (MSF) provides access to health care in refugee camps and supports health clinics in a number of small villages.
Other organisations in Chad with focused attention on the needs of the people on the move include, Association Jeunesse Pour la Paix et la non-violence (AJPNV), which provides free-of-charge medical and psychological support, as well as legal aid, to refugees, IDPs, prisoners, and victims of torture and members of their families, refugees. Chad Relief Foundation (CRF) assists refugees, particularly those from the Central African Republic, through funded projects in the areas of health, recreation, education, and housing.