UN rushes aid to new Darfur arrivals in Central African Republic
The United Nations is rushing aid to refugees pouring into the Central African Republic (CAR) from the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, a spokesperson said today.
Jennifer Pagonis of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva that the agency and its partners are providing supplies to 2,650 newly arrived Sudanese “who are in a desperate condition in the east of the country where they have been surviving mainly on mangoes for the last few weeks.”
On Sunday, as part of a convoy of UN humanitarian aid from the capital Bangui, the agency sent materials including 600 pieces of plastic sheeting, clothes, soap and 600 jerry cans to help the refugees in Sam Ouandja located near the border with Sudan.
The refugees began arriving in Sam Ouandja late May after fleeing repeated attacks on their home town of Dafak and surrounding villages in south Darfur, according to UNHCR, which cited accounts of homes being bombarded by planes and helicopters and attacks by men in military clothing.
“The refugees are rapidly running out of food and have only a nearby creek for their water supply resulting in a number of refugees falling ill with diarrhoea while others have malaria,” said Ms. Pagonis.
In response, UN agencies including the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) sent on Sunday's convoy 80 metric tons of food, seeds and agricultural tools for 1,000 families, water purification sets, some medical supplies and other basic household items such as kitchen sets and education kits. The aid is expected to take about 10 days to reach the refugees because of poor road conditions.
WFP has also scheduled 15 metric tons of high-nutrition biscuits to arrive in Bangui on Thursday, from where they will be flown to Sam Ouandja. A doctor from the World Health Organization (WHO) is already at the site and two nurses are expected to leave today to the area.
Ms. Pagonis said UNHCR is planning to fly a small team to Sam Ouandja to register the newly arrived refugees, arrange for their safety in cooperation with local authorities and organize aid distribution.
CAR hosts some 10,000 refugees, mainly from Chad, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to UNHCR. In the northern part, there are also more than 212,000 people who have been displaced within the country.
Since 2003, the conflict in Darfur has killed some 200,000 people and forced another 2 million to flee their homes while threatening to spill over into neighbouring countries, including CAR.