News from Chad
Trip Start Feb 02, 2008
16Trip End May 03, 2008
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a. Gen sitn:
* No more than is on internat news - rebels withdrawn/repulsed to outside town said to be re-grouping, further attacks expected in coming 24 hrs. Some talk of "other actors" from the east being en route to join them. "Hundreds of thousands" of residents said to be moving over border/bridge into Cameroon in expectation of the end-game.
b. Sec sitn for staff:
* still have nat staff in there, and no contact in last 24 hrs
* LB designated to keep trying the numbers we have (tho landline not answering, and mobile networks down) to make contact and a) find out more ref sitn, b) ask how they are c) let them know that we have not forgotten them too.
2 Abeche & Goz Beida
a. Gen sitn:
* spookily quiet, uneasy calm, no clear info as to who is in control, or outside town. Security tree still in poor state - not being respected .... given that we in Ab are not getting the info we need thru planned channels, advising (reluctantly - since it exacerbates the problem) office to use direct comms to get info they can.
* Amedee and Mikael more upbeat this evening afetr a difficult day.
* in GB some panic and excessively heightened tensions ... expectations amongst nat staff of "cut and run" being planned by internats, and stormy mtng today - calmed effectively by Michael S but still an issue. Continued concerns ref forced conscription. ditto breakdown of authority and possibility of some future looting/robbery/banditry.
b. Sec sitn for staff:
* in Ab: staff hibernating. Amedee and Mikael are staying in Ab, whilst Caroline , Gerard & Jenny are all now out and on evac flight en route to Yaounde/Cameroon tonight, then proceed to Dakar asap.
* in GB as a. above ... verging on panic. Many but not all reloc'd nat staff wld leave to Ab given the chance. Dakar priority has been phone calls to calm things down ... get us back on track of Security Management Plan identification of security Levels (which determines essential/non-essential evacs etc etc) and steady structured decision making and planning, rather than mad-dash to Level 5 and the airport, which it nearly broke down into (led by other agencies). Much calmer there now we think. Nick I promoting discussion of what reduction to "life-saving activity only" looks like, and plan for what relocated nat, and internat staff is our minimum requirement for that for as long as that might be poss. (cld be 24 hrs or 2 wks - depn sitn evolution).
* co-ordinating with 6 orgs on possibility of a mega convoy (25 vcls plus) for moving non-essential relocated nat staff from GB to Ab. All other orgs keen. Air evac of the numbers concerned is impossible. Many agencies in same position. Obviously depn on route security.
* Ab team now planning to construct possibility of a viable alternative proposition, which is to keep life-saving ops running, and hope that this also will calm nerves of nat staff. Two other agencies plan to keep skeleton internat staff for ops in GB for as long as poss .... loks like we 3 orgs cld be the core. Eminently evacuate'able number in total if we go that route.
* 5 internat staff (non-essential &/or not willing to stay) confirmed booked on flt to Ab on Tues. Cecile, Tomas, Paul, Humphrey, Margaret. This leaves 3 still in GB. Michael, Samuel, Nicolas remain for now - being asked to consider their position. Under constant review.
* Dakar planning to set up independent alternative flight option in case UN flts turn out to be full when/if push comes to shove - this will be additional reassurance to those considering staying for life-saving ops.
* Note: future re-establ of ops will be v demanding when time comes. Some evac'd staff may refuse to rtn, others may be unfit to just yet, and so anticipate need for 2x HSP PMs and possibly other tech specialists HSPs to a) assess & repair (looted?) systems, b) re-establish ops, c) assess xtra needs if any . 3 weeks from today is earliest anticipated return to full ops given best case scenario. Could of course be MUCH longer.
* continuous contact now direct betw Dakar and Ab, and Dakar and GB (in addition to Ab > GB ... which is more and more diff).
* Hum Dept are requested to consider HSPs availability and report to Raphael.
a. Gen sitn:
* preparing to receive evac'd staff
b. Staff movements
* Ruth , Charles , John all due Dakar this eve. Caroline, Gerard, Jenny all expected in next 1-3 days via Yaounde/Cameroon. Office and pers accom being sorted .... main mtng room in RC being set-up as Chad country office in exile - not to run ops, but to be able to stay in touch.
* decisions to be made in coming days on who will go on (& needs for hlth) home on R&R, & who is needed as advisory cap in Dakar ... especially considering poss of maintaining life-saving ops in field.
HR and HSP Welfare and HR staff here happily ready to offer all necessary support.
4. POLICY & COMMS :
* no press release today Mon.
* Kate and team working on release for tommorrow using continued evac of our staff as hook for wider msgs on hum space and hum needs, protection of civilians etc .
* considering revising/refreshing advocacy asks at BRX and PARIS levels.