Chad: Bodies of 27 migrants, incl children found in Chadian desert

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA): The International Organization for Migration said Tuesday it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the recent discovery of the bodies of 27 migrants, including four children, in the Chadian desert.

The migrants reportedly left Moussoro, a crossroads town in West-Central Chad, 17 months ago in a pickup truck, the IOM said in a statement.

It is believed the truck got lost in the deep desert, broke down due to mechanical issues, and the migrants died of thirst, said the IOM.

“We are deeply saddened by this most recent tragedy and extend our heartfelt condolences to the migrants’ families,” said Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.

“We need stronger collective action to prevent further deaths.”

Chad, at the crossroads of North and Central Africa, currently hosts about 300,000 refugees in 17 refugee camps and 160,000 internally displaced persons in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

The forced migration has been caused mainly by conflict and general insecurity in western Sudan, eastern Chad, and parts of the Central African Republic.

According to the IOM, food insecurity, failed harvests, and inconsistent rains have impacted migration patterns.

The IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths and disappearances of more than 5,600 people transiting through the Sahara Desert since 2014, with 149 deaths recorded in 2022.

Since 2014, 110 migrant deaths have been recorded within Chad, including this latest incident.

But these numbers are likely higher, as many migrant deaths go unrecorded, leaving families worried and without answers about their loved ones, said the IOM.

In June, the bodies of 20 Chadians and Libyans were found in the Libyan desert in Koufra, a town located along the Chad-Libya border.

“Without access to reliable information and safe migration pathways, migrants will continue to take risky roads through the deep and perilous desert, with tragic consequences,” said the IOM’s Schaefer.

Strong coordination and comprehensive support are needed to enable search and rescue operations and provide humanitarian assistance and protection in highly remote areas.

“This tragedy occurring on the dawn of International Migrants’ Day (Dec. 18) should be a wake-up call for us all to act more decisively to prevent migrant deaths along dangerous irregular migration routes,” said Schaefer.

[Map of Chad by CIA Fact Book/Public Domain]

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