Chad + 1 more

Southern Chad: UNHCR and partners gearing up for relocation of Central Africans

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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 12 July 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Just to update you on the situation in southern Chad: The government has now given UNHCR permission for the urgent relocation of some 10,000 refugees from the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) who arrived in border areas of southern Chad starting in early June following unrest in their homeland. The level of insecurity in northern CAR reportedly remains considerable, with both banditry and rebel activity reported.

The relocation operation could start as early as tomorrow (Wednesday) and is a race against time as the rains have already set in. The refugees 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 at the existing camp of Amboko, where we can more easily provide humanitarian assistance. Flooding is already beginning to obstruct movement in the region. The relocation is expected to take some weeks.

Staff have been redeployed to Gore from UNHCR offices in Abeche, Damanadji and N'djamena. Additional staff have been recruited. WFP, UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and various partner NGOs (CARE, Oxfam, Chadian Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières) are all working hard on this. The government has made available to UNHCR additional land for a temporary transit centre at Amboko camp, near Gore. The refugees will be housed at the temporary site until after the harvest of the current crop in surrounding areas, at which time some of the farmland might be taken out of production in order to accommodate the newcomers. An airstrip at Gore, unused for more than 20 years, is being urgently rehabilitated. It is hoped that flights may be possible within a couple of weeks, which would significantly enhance the operation.

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.