The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it has temporarily suspended food distribution for some 22,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad owing to a rise in insecurity.
The order to suspend work came on Tuesday after rebel activities were reported in the region around the Goz-Amir camp where the refugees are sheltered, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.
WFP says camp residents have sufficient rations of food to wait out the rise in insecurity, and while it has relocated some staff to the regional hub of Goz Beida, the agency continues its life-saving work in the 11 other UN-run camps in eastern Chad.
However, WFP says it will evacuate staff from other areas if necessary, noted Mr. Haq.
Some 250,000 refugees in eastern Chad, 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 150,000 of their local hosts rely on WFP assistance for their daily subsistence.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), humanitarian and security conditions have generally deteriorated in Chad, and have worsened even further in recent weeks.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued yesterday, warned against any attempts to destabilize eastern Chad, and appealed to all parties to respect the humanitarian character of the operations being carried out there by the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).