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UN team heads to eastern Chad to help relocate Sudanese refugees

UN team heads to eastern Chad to help relocate Sudanese refugees

A six-member team from the United Nations refugee agency is headed to eastern Chad to help relocate tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees from insecure areas near the border with Sudan.

Experts from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are expected to arrive tomorrow to assist in setting up safer refugee camps further away from the Chad-Sudan border, where about 95,000 refugees who have arrived since April are living in makeshift camps.

The refugees, mainly women and children, have been fleeing raids by militia groups on their villages in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The tide of refugees has increased recently, with an estimated 30,000 people arriving in December, including some 5,000 in just the past few days.

UNHCR officials say Sudanese militias frequently raid the camps along the border, which is in a remote region of Chad, stealing the cattle of the refugees. UNHCR has been distributing supplies of blankets, jerry cans, kitchen sets, sorghum and cooking oil to the refugees.

Many refugees are reported to be suffering from respiratory problems, exacerbated by the area’s weather extremes – temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius by day, but less than 10 degrees at night.

The new camps, to be located at least 50 kilometres from the border, will begin accepting refugees by the middle of the month. One camp, near the town of Farchana, will be able to house up to 15,000 people.

The UNHCR team, which has been in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, since Tuesday, comprises a team leader, a protection officer, a field community services officer, an information officer, an administration officer and a logistics specialist.