Global disaster relief organization ShelterBox is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Africa caused by the conflict in Sudan, sending an emergency response team to neighboring Chad where at least 80,000 refugees have fled.

ShelterBox, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit that provides emergency shelter and life-saving supplies in disaster and conflict areas around the world, will meet with local partners and assess the greatest needs and logistical challenges of a response.

Harmata, who lives with her six children in a camp for internally displaced families, cooks food in a pot outdoors. She was provided with aid from ShelterBox during a response in 2018 in the Lake Chad region.
ShelterBox provided Harmata, who lives with her six children in a camp for internally displaced families, with aid during a response in 2018 in the Lake Chad region. Credit: Courtesy photo

Long-simmering tensions between Sudan’s military and primary paramilitary force erupted into widespread violence on April 15 that continues today and shows no signs of letting it up. It has forced more than 1 million people from their homes so far.

“We are deeply concerned about the unrelenting violence in Sudan,” said Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA. “This is a crisis on top of another crisis.

“Chad already had extremely high humanitarian needs. This new influx of refugees – the vast majority of which are women and children – will further strain the region.

“ShelterBox is working as fast as possible to assess the greatest needs and how we may be able to help,” she said.

Many of the displaced Sudanese have sought to flee Sudan, including at least 80,000 refugees who have crossed its Western border into Chad. That number is expected to rise to 100,000 by the end of the month.

Nearly 90% of the new refugees entering Chad are women and children, and only 2% have adequate access to shelter, according to recent reports. Other needs include items like water carriers, mosquito nets, and soap.

The new influx of refugees into Chad adds to an existing 600,000 refugees already in the country after fleeing violence, making the needs extraordinarily high. Of those, 400,000 are estimated to be Sudanese.

Currently, there are not enough emergency shelter providers in the country, and insufficient funding for the needed response.

ShelterBox has worked in Chad and Sudan previously. In 2018, it provided shelter and other essential items to more than 16,000 people in response to ongoing conflict.

Two years later, ShelterBox responded to flooding in Sudan, helping more than 5,500 people by providing essential shelter supplies.

ShelterBox has experience responding in Africa and in conflict zones. It also has programs in Ukraine, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Cameroon.