More people fleeing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are crossing the river to seek refuge in neighbouring Chad, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.
More than 100 CAR refugees crossed the volatile border to south-eastern Chad over the weekend, joining over 6,800 others who began arriving earlier this year in two sites near the remote Daha village registered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Another 2,500 new arrivals are sheltering just across the border in the Chadian village of Massambaye, 125 kilometres east of Daha.
According to UNHCR spokesperson, Ron Redmond, the arrivals – most of whom are women, children and elderly people – have told the agency that they escaped clashes between Government forces and rebels in northern CAR.
“Refugees said they walked for two days before reaching the border,” he told reporters in Geneva. “They said more people were still hiding in the bush in CAR for fear of being attacked or killed, and were trying to reach safety in Chad.”
They also told UNHCR that they do not want to return to their homes in CAR at this point because of the insecurity in the north of their country and have expressed their desire to remain close to the Chad-CAR border, Mr. Redmond said.
UNHCR and its partners are supplying plastic sheeting, mats, blankets and other items to the refugees, who have started building their own small huts.
“We will continue to provide ad hoc assistance to those in Daha and Massambaye, but the region will become inaccessible once the rainy season starts at the end of April,” the UNCHR spokesperson said.
For its part, UNHCR is assisting Daha’s health centre, and malnourished refugee children are receiving supplementary food while all newly-arrived children are receiving vaccinations for measles and polio.
In southern Chad, there are currently some 56,000 CAR refugees, while in the country’s east, over 250,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing the conflict in the Darfur region are living in 12 UNHCR-run camps. Additionally, the agency is helping over 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chad.