UN aid reaches Central African refugees in south-eastern Chad

13 February 2009

A team from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reached thousands of people who fled violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) to a remote area of south-eastern Chad.

The UN has started registering the new arrivals and providing emergency aid, as some 6,000 civilians, mostly women and children from CAR’s Rounga and Sara tribes, have taken refuge in Chad since December to escape rebel attacks and clashes between rebels and Government forces.

Most of these refugees are sheltering in the village of Daha, roughly one kilometre from the Chad-CAR border, UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

A convoy organized by UNHCR, the UN World Food Programme (< ahref="http://www.wfp.org/">WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other aid agencies, which left for Daha from a relief hub in the eastern Chadian town of Abéché last Friday, arrived earlier this week after traversing nearly 1,000 kilometres of rugged terrain.

Meanwhile, a UNHCR emergency team from Geneva is expected to arrive in the village tomorrow.

On Tuesday, agency staff began registering the refugees and distributing crucial items, such as cooking utensils, shelter material and mosquito nets. They are also assessing the immediate needs of the new arrivals, with five children having died of unknown causes and two women having lost their lives while giving birth.

“We are awaiting a decision from the Chadian Government on proposals to move the new arrivals to a safer location with easier access for humanitarian agencies,” Mr. Redmond said, adding that the most likely site for a new camp will be in Am Timan, almost 300 kilometres north of Daha.

He added that many refugees interviewed by UNHCR are still traumatized by their experiences and are not ready to return to the CAR.

“One refugee woman who crossed into Chad about two weeks ago with her three daughters and only the clothes on their backs, said the rebels killed five of her family members and burned her village in the Ngarba area,” the spokesperson said.

Currently, the agency helps over 50,000 CAR refugees in five camps in southern Chad as well as 12 sites in eastern Chad housing 250,000 refugees from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region. In addition, more than 160,000 Chadians are uprooted within their country’s borders.


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