Chadian refugees go home

Tens of thousands of Chadians fled civil war in that country in the early 1980s. Now, the organized repatriation of refugees back to Chad is drawing to a close.


GENEVA, July 27 (UNHCR) - The organized repatriation from West Africa of Chadian refugees who fled their country during civil war in the early 1980s is officially drawing to a close.

UNHCR announced Friday that 288 refugees this week left Cameroon's largest city of Douala for a two-day rail journey to the northern border, from where they were then trucked into southern Chad after being supplied with five months of food, blankets, kitchen tools and soap. UNHCR this year is also supporting and rehabilitating schooling, water and health facilities in villages of return.

One final convoy for 500 'urban' refugees from the Cameroon capital, Yaoundé, is scheduled for next week. A total of 7,000 Chadians have been officially repatriated from that country, but lack of funds has brought a halt to further operations. UNHCR estimates there are still 40,000 Chadians in Cameroon, most of whom may have integrated locally.

The return to Chad reached a peak last year, when 18,000 refugees went home from the Central African Republic and smaller numbers from Benin and Gabon.

Chad itself hosts some 17,000 refugees, the majority of them rural civilians from Sudan who settled in the east of Chad.