Chad: moving 10,000 refugees threatened by floods could take three weeks – UN
Racing against the fast approaching rains in Chad, slowed by the lack of roads and facing the threat of bandits, the United Nations refugee agency said today it expects to complete within three weeks the relocation of 10,000 needy refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) who are threatened with being cut off from all aid.
Since the operation started on Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners have so far moved some 325 refugees, mostly women and children, from makeshift settlements in remote areas of southern Chad, where they have been living since fleeing unrest last month, to an existing camp at Amboko where humanitarian assistance can be more easily provided.
“On Wednesday morning, three trucks carrying the first 97 refugees made their way through rain-flooded areas around Betel village, where 3,000 refugees are staying, to Amboko camp,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.
“The convoy arrived in Amboko after a five-hour drive. The distance is less than 75 kilometres, so you can imagine the conditions. It was escorted by Chadian gendarmes as there are frequent bandit attacks in the area. Yesterday morning, amid a heavy downpour, we managed to transfer an additional 229 refugees in eight trucks.”
The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Chadian Red Cross are also providing trucks to help in the operation. The refugees arrived in Chad last month after fleeing unrest in northern CAR.
Amboko already hosts 13,000 CAR refugees who fled after a military coup in 2003, but it can accommodate up to 27,000 people. At the camp, the new arrivals are provided with UN World Food Programme (WFP) food rations, including beans, sorghum, oil and sugar, as well as with UNHCR relief items such as mats, jerry cans and kitchen utensils.
The relocation operation is expected to be completed within a maximum of three weeks, Mr. Redmond said.
Chad is also hosting more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan who are currently housed in 12 camps in the eastern part of the country.