Cameroon: Many Chadians feel return is not yet safe

Briefing Notes, 26 February 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 26 February 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

An Ilyushin-76 cargo plane chartered by UNHCR is getting ready to leave tomorrow (Wednesday) from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Garoua in Cameroon 800 km north of the capital Yaoundé. The plane will transport 40 tonnes of relief items for distribution to thousands of Chadian refugees who have fled earlier this month from the Chadian capital N'Djamena to the town of Kousséri, on the Cameroon side of the Chari river.

This is the third airlift organized by UNHCR with relief items for Chadian refugees in Cameroon. Two similar flights took place earlier this month from Dubai to Garoua, bringing 90 tonnes of much-needed relief items such as blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, jerry cans and soap. The plane on Wednesday will also carry water bladders and tents. Relief assistance will be transported by trucks from Garoua to Maltam 1 refugee camp, 32 km away from Kousséri.

In Kousséri, we now have transported 5,523 Chadian refugees from Madana transit site, churches and schools in town to Maltam 1 camp. Additional convoys are scheduled for the coming days. In total, 4,600 families comprising around 20,000 persons have registered with UNHCR and indicated their intention to stay for the time being in Cameroon.

Up to 30,000 Chadians fled unrest in N'Djamena earlier this month and found refuge in Kousséri. Although many have gone back to their homes in the Chadian capital, many others do not feel that it is completely safe to do so.