Logistics: Going From No To Where


May 29, 2009: Supplying peacekeepers and food relief programs in Chad is a logistical nightmare. Landlocked and in the middle of a very dry area, without much water transportation, most of the supplies have to be trucked in. The nearest ports are in Libya, and the largely dirt roads are unusable in the rainy season (June to August) because of the mud. Most of the food supplies are brought in from January to May. But there are other problems, like bandits and a lack of fuel and maintenance facilities along the way. The food to feed half a million refugees and other starving people in Chad, must move along a 2,800 kilometer route from Libyan ports. Libya protects the convoys from bandits until the trucks reach the Chad border. After that, Chad is supposed to take over security, but this does not always happen. To deal with the fuel, maintenance and security needs, convoys usually have over a hundred vehicles, including those carrying fuel, mechanics and security guards.

As the food trucks move to the half dozen main refugee camps, bandits come in and try to take what they want. Last year, there were 2-3 attacks on relief workers (two-thirds from NGOs, the rest UN) each week. There are not sufficient peacekeepers in eastern Chad to protect the thousands of relief workers in the area, and the attacks are becoming more numerous and violent. This year, aid agencies brought in over 30,000 tons of food during the dry season.

Often the government of Chad is a problem. Two years ago, France was unable to get Chad to agree to an overland truck route guarded by French peacekeepers. Thus France had to airlift food to southeastern Chad, where the need was greatest. About a hundred troops are guarding the aircraft landing areas.



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