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Chad: Influx of Sudanese refugees

Briefing notes

Chad: Influx of Sudanese refugees

2 September 2003

The number of Sudanese refugees fleeing to eastern Chad since April of this year has now reached some 65,000. The refugees, many of them in poor health, are fleeing fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan. UNHCR officials, accompanied by two members of the Chadian Parliament and an official of the World Food Programme are now on an assessment mission to villages around Abéché and Adré to ascertain the needs of the refugees. The refugees have largely been taken care of by local residents in Chad, who come from the same ethnic group.

Refugees first began fleeing the Darfur area in April, and the influx continues. Last Friday, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) accused Khartoum government forces of killing 46 civilians and destroying scores of villages in North Darfur State, a charge denied by the government. UNHCR officials in eastern Chad quoted the latest refugees as saying they had been targeted by gunfire from aircraft. Refugees are being hampered in their flight from western Sudan by heavy rain. It is the rainy season in Chad, and many of the refugees are showing signs of exposure, suffering from pneumonia and similar ailments.

A truce between the Khartoum government and southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has largely held while peace talks continue in Kenya. This leaves the war in Darfur as Sudan's main battlefront.