UN relief agency will lead 2,000 Central Africans to safety in Chad

16 September 2005

More than 2,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), stranded by floods for the past month in southern Chad, will be led to safe camps starting immediately, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

More than 2,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), stranded by floods for the past month in southern Chad, will be led to safe camps starting immediately, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

The refugees who have been stranded by floods in the Bekan area have up to now only been reachable by canoe, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond added. With the assistance of UNHCR staff, about 300 people a day will make the arduous 42 kilometre journey to Amboko camp, with 17 kilometres of the trip on foot over rough land.

Deteriorating security, including attacks by unidentified armed groups and cattle breeders who want to graze animals on their fields, led the refugees to leave northern CAR. After arriving in Bekan last month, floods stranded them. UNHCR staff traveled there on Wednesday using canoes and motorcycles to register the refugees and provide them with food for the journey.

Many of the Central Africans are in poor health, since for the past three to four weeks they have been surviving on roots and wild fruit from the forests, with minimal help from local residents.

Although their first stop will be at Amboko camp, the UNHCR hopes to take them to a new camp 10 kilometres away at Bedamara that is currently being prepared, though no date has been given for when it will be ready. Amboko is presently housing about 23,000 refugees and will reach its maximum at 27,000. Altogether Chad is housing about 45,000 CAR refugees in its country.

The relocation is organized by UNHCR and its non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, Commission Nationale d’Accueil et de Reinsertion des Refugies (CNAR, Chad’s national refugee authority), the Chadian Red Cross, Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), African Concern, and Care International.

 

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