N'DJAMENA, Chad, June 13 (UNHCR)
- Some 300 people took part in a march through the Chad capital, N'Djamena, on Wednesday to express solidarity with the country's almost half-a-million refugees and internally displaced persons.
The UNHCR-organized event was one of many activities planned by UNHCR around the country to mark World Refugee Day on June 20. Those taking part included staff from the refugee agency alongside humanitarian aid workers, human rights activists, government officials, artists, journalists and refugees.
The latter included some of the estimated 5,000 urban refugees in N'Djamena. They come from several African countries.
Police cordoned off roads used by the marchers and provided security. There was a carnival atmosphere as walkers sang and danced as the procession made its way through the streets of N'Djamena to the UNHCR compound.
UNHCR Representative in Chad Serge Malé told participants at the start of the march that this was an occasion to show empathy and solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of uprooted people in Chad and to thank the Chadian people in the south and the east for accepting some 235,000 refugees from Sudan and 46,000 Central African Republic on their soil.
He also highlighted recent progress on measures to improve security in eastern Chad, saying that the deployment of an international force would be a positive step for the refugees and the estimated 150,000 internally displaced Chadians who cannot return to their villages in the south-east due to a lack of security.
At the end of the march, senior interior ministry official Abderamane Djasnabaye reiterated the government's commitment to protect and assist refugees and displaced people and to find durable solutions for all uprooted in Chad.
By Ann Maymann in N'Djamena, Chad