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Growing violence in eastern Chad alarms UN refugee agency

Growing violence in eastern Chad alarms UN refugee agency

Chadian gendarmes search newly arrived refugees from Darfur at a camp in eastern Chad
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is voicing deep concern about the escalating violence inside eastern Chad, where two gendarmes guarding a refugee camp were shot dead earlier this week and an increasing number of vehicles have been hijacked by bandits.

UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told journalists today in Geneva that the agency is also alarmed that last weekend’s attack by Darfur rebels on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, could further destabilize the already fragile security situation in the region.

Eastern Chad is home to about 250,000 refugees from neighbouring Darfur, with the majority living in 12 formal camps, as well as 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) because of the ongoing troubles within Chad.

Ms. Pagonis said that two gendarmes providing security for the Touloum camp were shot and killed by three armed men on Wednesday, while another two gendarmes were severely injured. The attackers, local Chadians, have since been arrested.

A day earlier, also near Touloum, three gunmen hijacked a vehicle belonging to an aid partner of UNHCR and then drove to Am Nabak refugee camp, where they hijacked a vehicle belonging to a local non-governmental organization (NGO). After gendarmes gave chase, the hijackers abandoned the vehicles and escaped.

The hijacking of vehicles, particularly involving NGOs and aid agencies, and other security incidents – such as armed robberies of NGO compounds – have become increasingly common in eastern Chad, and earlier this month the country director of Save the Children was killed by bandits.