CAR + 1 more

Chad: Conditions worsen for Central African Republic refugees, no word from authorities

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This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 8 July 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is still awaiting word from Chadian authorities on our request for the urgent relocation of some 10,000 recently arrived refugees from the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR). The refugees fled unrest in the CAR over a three-week period in early June and have been living in difficult conditions around 17 villages in southern Chad's Gore area. With the onset of the rainy season, it is essential that we get them moved quickly to a single site where we can more easily provide humanitarian assistance. Flooding is already beginning to obstruct movement in the region.

Our team in N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, is scheduled to meet with government officials this morning about our request to move the refugees - possibly to the existing camp of Amboko, near Gore.

A UNHCR staff member, who this week has been visiting the makeshift sites where the refugees are currently staying, describes extremely difficult living conditions. Médecins Sans Frontières reports that there are serious concerns about a measles outbreak, and that malaria is rampant among the refugees. Out of 20 blood tests administered on Wednesday to a group of refugees in one of the villages, 19 tested positive for malaria. There are also fears of a possible cholera outbreak in the area, where adequate sanitation and water are lacking.

Malnourishment is starting to have fatal consequences. A child diagnosed with kwashiorkor some days ago died Wednesday in Amboko hospital.

As of yesterday, UNHCR had distributed 4,200 blankets and 1,500 plastic sheets to the refugees. More supplies from our stocks in N'Djamena and Abeche, in eastern Chad, are on their way to southern Chad. We've also sent more staff to the Gore area to support our office there, and UNHCR is in the process of seeking the release of about $1 million from our emergency fund to assist this specific population of refugees.

There are already 30,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in southern Chad. The majority of them arrived in 2003 after a military coup. They are staying in Amboko camp in Gore and Yaroungou camp in Danamadji. Chad is also hosting more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who are currently housed in 12 camps in the east part of the country.