First group of refugees leave Chad for new lives in US – UN

23 June 2009
A refugee family in a makeshift shelter in eastern Chad. The United States will accept hundreds of the most vulnerable for resettlement

As part of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) programme, the first group of refugees has left Chad to begin new lives in the United States.

As part of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) programme, the first group of refugees has left Chad to begin new lives in the United States.

The 11 refugees are the first of a total of 1,800 resettlement cases – mostly Sudanese refugees from the war-torn Darfur region living in camps in eastern Chad – the agency plans to identify this year.

The group – who are heading for Kentucky, Texas, Iowa and Utah – which departed for the US by air from the Chadian capital N’Djamena on 21 June comprise refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Currently, 250,000 refugees from Darfur are sheltering in 12 UNHCR-run camps in Chad’s east. Additionally, 70,000 CAR refugees are living in five camps in southern Chad.

The US is the first country to promote resettlement for refugees in Chad, the agency said.

“Resettlement requires a very meticulous process and usually takes seven to nine months per individual case,” said UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler.

The process includes interviews, medical screenings, counseling and cultural orientation sessions, and agency staff are trained to detect fraud to ensure they do not select refugees who are not eligible for resettlement.

“Resettlement is considered one of UNHCR’s durable solutions for protracted refugee solutions, along with voluntary repatriation and local integration,” Mr. Spindler said.

The next group of refugees, made up of mostly people who fled fighting in Darfur, is slated to leave for the US in July.

 

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