Briefing Notes, 27 July 2001
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 27 July 2001, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR is now engaged in the final stages of the repatriation of Chadian refugees from the West African region. A week ago, 288 refugees set out from Douala, Cameroon, to begin a one-week return journey that will include travel by train and truck convoy to southern Chad. Upon arrival at a Chadian transit centre, they received a five-month food ration from WFP, and blankets, kitchen tools and soap from UNHCR.
Most Chadian refugees in West Africa fled civil war in their country in the early eighties. Until 1994 they were granted prima facie refugee status, but after 1994 they had to undergo individual refugees status determination.
UNHCR last year was able to close two camps in northern Cameroon after all 4,500 refugees in the two camps were repatriated to Chad. This week's repatriation will be followed by a final one next week for some 500 urban refugees from Cameroon's capital, Yaoundé, bringing the total repatriated from Cameroon to 7,000. UNHCR estimates there are still some 40,000 Chadians in Cameroon, most of whom are believed to have integrated locally.
The repatriation to Chad reached a peak last year with a total of 18,000 refugees repatriated from the Central African Republic, and small numbers from Benin and Gabon. Chad is itself host to some 17,000 refugees, a majority rural refugees from Sudan settled in the east of the country.