Chad steps up security at UN camps after three refugees are killed

Chad steps up security at UN camps after three refugees are killed

Chadian gendarmes at a ceremony
Chadian authorities are tightening security in and around 10 United Nations refugee camps in the east of the country - where more than 200,000 Sudanese people have gathered after fleeing violence in the Darfur region - after three refugees were killed there in the past week amid rising tensions with locals.

Some 180 Chadian gendarmes have started patrols around the camps and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has handed over nine vehicles for the gendarmes to use, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters today in Geneva.

Mr. Redmond said the refugees and the authorities blame Chadian nomads for their recent spate of violent attacks, adding the local population was not considered responsible.

"Nevertheless, the incidents are indicative of increasing tension between the refugees and the local population due to a lack of resources," he said. "While the Sudanese refugees were openly welcomed by Chadians belonging to the same ethnic groups when they crossed the border, there is some resentment among local people who now say the refugees in the camps live better than they do."

Last Friday, a man on camelback shot a refugee tending his animals about 20 kilometres from the Mile camp. The refugee later died in a hospital. Then on Monday, two refugees were killed for unknown motives between the towns of Mile and Iriba.

In other incidents, eight armed men on horseback stole 100 sheep from a refugee who had been guarding them and another refugee was shot in the arm and badly wounded while guarding his animals near Mile.

Last week five men attacked five girls and two boys who had left the Kounoungo camp to gather firewood. One of the girls was also raped.

Meanwhile, in a progress report on the activities of the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the Mission's work has greatly expanded since it was set up earlier this year because it now includes the crisis in Darfur.

UNAMIS was established by the Security Council in June in anticipation of a peace agreement being reached in the long-running civil war in southern Sudan, where 3 million people need humanitarian relief after more than two decades of conflict.

Peace talks between the Sudanese Government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) are scheduled to resume in Naivasha, Kenya, later this month.

But since then the Council has asked UNAMIS to assist the African Union (AU) with its work in Darfur, where thousands of people have been killed and 1.65 million people are displaced.

Mr. Annan says "the logistical challenges alone are considerable, and there are expected to be numerous political challenges throughout the implementation period."