UNHCR speeding relocation of Darfur refugees away from Tissi border

Briefing Notes, 4 June 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 4 June 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In southeast Chad, UNHCR is speeding relocation of refugees from Tissi a settlement located a few miles from the borders with Sudan and Central African Republic to a site some 30 kilometres northwest at Ab Gadam. This is because of the impending rainy season and security concerns about Tissi itself, which lies in a volatile area.

Over the past two weeks 5,522 refugees have been moved. This is in addition to more than 1,800 refugees who were transferred last month to Goz Amir, an established camp 240 kilometres further north.

Since 17 May UNHCR and its partners have been relocating refugees at a rate of around 500 daily using truck and bus convoys. We hope to finish the Tissi relocations by the end of the week. We will then continue with relocations of people scattered nearby around Um Dukum. In total, we expect there to be 20,000 refugees in Ab Gadam by mid-June, weather permitting. We are also exploring the possibility of opening up additional sites should the numbers exceed 20,000.

Since January, close to 30,000 Darfurians have crossed into the Tissi area of Chad. The first wave of refugees were fleeing conflict between the Binheissin and Rizeigat tribes, while a later group crossed due to communal violence between the Salamat and Misseriya tribes.

Darfuris are continuing to cross into Tissi, as tensions persist in the Um Dukhun area of Darfur, about seven kilometres north of Tissi. Shelling last week in the Um Dukhun area was audible from the UNHCR compound.

Around 90 per cent of refugees currently in the border area are from the Salamat tribe. Most are women and children, sleeping in the open and at risk from waterborne diseases. We need additional funding to meet their urgent needs.

At Ab Gadam refugees receive food rations and non-food items including jerry cans, sanitation material, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, blankets and mosquito nets. Refugees are also provided with local materials and plastic sheeting to construct their own temporary shelters. UNHCR and its partners build shelters for the most vulnerable. Two temporary hangars have been set up for registration, distribution of aid, refugee meetings as well as medical and nutritional screening. Plans for a permanent structure are under way.

Providing sufficient drinking water is a challenge at Ab Gadam. We are currently trucking water from Tissi and storing it in bladders while we continue to work with our partners to dig boreholes and set up water pumps. Medical care and nutrition screening were started and currently refugees in need of medical assistance are transferred to the medical post in Tissi.

UNHCR is also prepositioning relief items closer to the camp Ab Gadam for the entire refugee population. We are also working on the establishment of a UNHCR office nearby to facilitate access to the camp during the rainy season. A helicopter will be used during the rainy season to maintain access.

To date UNHCR has registered 29,634 refugees mostly from Sudan and also a small number of 458 nationals from the Central African Republic. Before the recent influx, around 300,000 Sudanese refugees were already hosted in eastern Chad.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Tissi: Ruth Schöffl, on mobile +235 68 000 537
  • In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, on mobile +41 79 249 34 83
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Darfuri Refugees in Chad: No end in Sight

More than six years after the beginning of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, more than a quarter-of-a-million refugees remain displaced in neighbouring Chad. Most of the refugees are women and children and many are still traumatized after fleeing across the border after losing almost everything in land and air raids on their villages.

Families saw their villages being burned, their relatives being killed and their livestock being stolen. Women and girls have been victims of rape, abuse and humiliation, and many have been ostracized by their own communities as a result.

The bulk of the refugees live in 12 camps run by UNHCR in the arid reaches of eastern Chad, where natural resources such as water and firewood are scarce. They have been able to resume their lives in relative peace, but all hope one day to return to Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of their compatriots are internally displaced.

In eastern Chad, UNHCR and other agencies are helping to take care of 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, who fled inter-ethnic clashes in 2006-2007. Some families are starting to return to their villages of origin only now.

Darfuri Refugees in Chad: No end in Sight

Chad's other refugee crisis

While attention focuses on the Darfuris in eastern Chad, another refugee crisis unfolds in southern Chad.

A second refugee crisis has been quietly unfolding in the south of Chad for the past few years, getting little attention from the media and the international community. Some 60,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) are hosted there in five camps and receive regular assistance from UNHCR. But funding for aid and reintegration projects remains low. Refugees have been fleeing fighting between rebel groups and governmental forces in northern CAR. 17,000 new refugees have arrived from northern CAR to south-eastern Chad since the beginning of 2009.

Chad's other refugee crisis

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Little has been reported about the humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), where at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes since mid-2005. An estimated 197,000 are internally displaced, while 98,000 have fled to Chad, Cameroon or Sudan. They are the victims of fighting between rebel groups and government forces.

Many of the internally displaced live in the bush close to their villages. They build shelters from hay, grow vegetables and even start bush schools for their children. But access to clean water and health care remains a huge problem. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and malaria but their parents are too scared to take them to hospitals or clinics for treatment.

Cattle herders in northern CAR are menaced by the zaraguina, bandits who kidnap children for ransom. The villagers must sell off their livestock to pay.

Posted on 21 February 2008

Crisis in the Central African Republic

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