The United Nations refugee agency has launched an urgent appeal for $16.6 million to avert a humanitarian disaster on the Chad-Sudan border, where more than 65,000 Sudanese refugees, mainly women and children fleeing fighting in Africa’s largest country, have been living in desperate conditions for months.
The refugees, who started fleeing the Darfur region of northwestern Sudan in April, have been encamped in the remote desert of eastern Chad with little food or water, sleeping under makeshift shelters with no sanitation or medical facilities, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
“We immediately need $6.2 million to provide urgent aid to the refugees between now and the end of the year,” UNHCR spokesperson Millicent Mutuli told a news briefing in Geneva today. “These funds will enable us to immediately provide shelter, health services, water, sanitation and logistics.”
The total amount covers the period up to December 2004 and comes amid continuing efforts to distribute aid to refugees spread across more than a dozen sites along Chad’s border with Sudan. A first consignment of supplies for up to 40,000 people drawn from regional stockpiles in western Tanzania arrived in eastern Chad last week.
The head of UNHCR's Africa Bureau, David Lambo, told donors at the agency's annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva yesterday that while the situation in Darfur appeared now to be under control, “it has not stopped people from fleeing."
Only last month, hundreds of refugees streaming into Chad told a UN interagency team that they fled when government forces bombed their villages.