The regions of Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan have been chronically unstable for several years, often marked by conflicts, civil unrest, inter-communal clashes, and political upheavals. This has led to large-scale displacements both within the borders of these countries and beyond. While the broader refugee and internally displaced populations face numerous challenges, the vulnerabilities are particularly pronounced for women and children. Here’s an in-depth look at their plight in these regions:



Chad has long been a recipient of refugees fleeing conflicts in neighboring countries, including Sudan (especially from the Darfur region), the Central African Republic, and Nigeria. The influx of these refugees, combined with internal displacements, has created a significant humanitarian crisis in Chad, straining the country’s limited resources and infrastructure.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) FGM is a harmful cultural practice involving the partial or total removal of female external genitalia. While Chad itself has a high prevalence of FGM, many refugees come from regions where this practice is also deeply rooted. The lack of education and awareness campaigns in refugee camps, coupled with the desire to retain cultural identity in a foreign land, perpetuates this harmful ritual. As a result, many girls in these camps are subjected to FGM, often in unsanitary conditions, leading to severe health complications and psychological trauma.

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Refugee camps often have inadequate security measures, which increases the vulnerability of women and girls to GBV, including sexual assault, domestic violence, and forced prostitution. The instability of camp life, combined with the trauma many refugees have already experienced, can exacerbate such violence.

Child Marriage Economic hardships and insecurity within refugee camps often lead families to marry off their daughters at a young age, believing it to be in the child’s best interest for protection or to alleviate financial strain. However, child marriage often results in the end of girls’ education, health complications from early pregnancies, and further exposure to domestic violence.

Exploitation Many women and girls are forced into labor or sexual exploitation due to the dire economic situation in the camps. Lack of access to education and vocational training makes them particularly vulnerable to traffickers or those looking to exploit their desperation. Moreover, many are coerced into forced labor, domestic servitude, or other forms of exploitation, with little to no pay and under threat of violence.



Internal Displacement and External Flight The conflict in Darfur, which began in 2003, led to a massive displacement of millions. Though some have returned, many remain internally displaced or have sought refuge in Chad and South Sudan.

Effects on Women and Girls Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including rape, was used as a weapon of war in Darfur. Many women continue to face this threat in refugee camps. Limited access to education and healthcare, exacerbated by displacement, further hinders the prospects of women and girls. The societal pressure to observe cultural norms often leads to early marriages and FGM.

Central African Republic (CAR)


Internal Displacement and External Flight The sectarian conflict that erupted in 2013 between the Muslim Séléka and Christian anti-Balaka militias resulted in thousands killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Neighboring countries like Chad and Cameroon have absorbed a significant number of these refugees.

Effects on Women and Girls The volatile situation in CAR exposes women and girls to extreme forms of GBV. The breakdown of law and order has emboldened armed groups to kidnap girls for sexual slavery or as child soldiers. Economic deprivation drives some into transactional sex or forced marriages.

South Sudan


Internal Displacement and External Flight Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has been embroiled in civil conflict, particularly after 2013. The violence has led to vast internal displacements, with many fleeing to neighboring countries like Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

Effects on Women and Girls The intensity of the civil conflict has meant that GBV, especially sexual violence, is rampant. Reports suggest that armed factions have used rape as a systematic tool for warfare. The sprawling refugee camps, with their poor security and overcrowded conditions, further expose women and girls to exploitation and abuse. Their access to education and health services, already limited in South Sudan, dwindles further in the chaotic environments of displacement.

Common Trends across the Regions


Child Marriage Financial strain, perceived security through marriage, and societal norms push many families to marry off their daughters early. This brings associated risks like early pregnancies, increased domestic violence, and truncated educational opportunities.

Economic Exploitation The lack of formal opportunities forces many women and girls into informal sectors, where they face exploitation. In refugee settings, this might translate into labor exploitation or sex work.

Limited Access to Services Refugee and internally displaced women and girls often lack access to vital services. This includes reproductive health care, psychosocial support, and legal recourse in case of abuses.

Cultural Practices Practices like FGM, deeply rooted in cultural traditions, persist and even intensify during displacement as communities cling to familiar customs.

Given the intricate socio-political fabric of these regions, interventions need to be multifaceted. Addressing the immediate needs of women and girls is paramount, but there’s also an imperative to create systemic changes that foster long-term safety, dignity, and empowerment for them.

In response to these issues, Discipline and local organizations are working tirelessly in Chad’s refugee camps, focusing on protection mechanisms, awareness campaigns, access to education, and psychosocial support for women and girls. However, given the scale of the crisis and the deeply rooted cultural and social challenges, comprehensive solutions require sustained efforts, funding, and international collaboration.

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