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Chad: Inter-ethnic violence

Briefing notes

Chad: Inter-ethnic violence

10 November 2006

In eastern Chad, our staff are reporting the recent spate of attacks on villages by armed men on horseback has also extended to the Koukou area, south-east of the town of Goz Beida. Yesterday, in a press release we outlined initial reports of attacks on villages in the Kerfi area, south-west of Goz Beida in which more than 200 people may have been killed, forcing hundreds to flee.

Yesterday, an interagency mission of UNHCR, UNICEF, the UN Department of Safety and Security, OCHA, ECHO and Oxfam travelled to the Koukou region where they found a pattern of burned villages. Louboutigue village, some 35 km from Goz Beida, was attacked on Wednesday morning and burned to the ground. The previous day, the villagers had heard shooting in Djorlo village which was being attacked, and decided to flee Louboutigue fearing an imminent attack. They fled towards a site for displaced people at Habile near Koukou, about 10 km away. Vulnerable people, such as the elderly, hid in the bush. Some are still in hiding.

On the road from Louboutigue to Habile site, the joint mission saw dozens of people fleeing with their belongings - their donkeys carrying bags of food supplies. Some people were also bringing their livestock. In Habile, new arrivals have started building makeshift shelters. The site already hosts 3,500 persons from earlier displacements and has reached its maximum capacity. We are discussing with the authorities to find a temporary site for the new arrivals. Most newly displaced told us that they want to return as soon as possible to their land as the harvesting season is starting. However, they said they would only return if they felt secure. The displaced people told us that many other villages have been attacked including Abondy, Kreta, Am Haraz, Dourty and Djami la-Assit.

To help the new arrivals, we are providing basic assistance such as plastic sheeting, mats, blankets and medicine. We are also looking at increasing the number of water points.

In the Kerfi area, attacks have also taken place in recent days. Tamadjoul village, 35km south of Kerfi village was attacked, sacked and burned on Wednesday morning by what villagers described as Arabs on horses. There are initial reports that two people were killed and four wounded. The wounded were evacuated on Thursday morning to Goz Beida hospital. An estimated 300 people are displaced from Tamadjoul and have gathered near several water points near Djabal refugee camp - which hosts 15,000 refugees from Darfur.

Initial reports indicate that inhabitants from Abshour and Sanour villages are also fleeing towards Goz Beida. We are in contact with the chief of canton in Goz Beida in order to find an additional site to host the new arrivals. The town is already hosting 11,000 displaced in Gouroukoun site who started to arrive last March following attacks near the Chad-Sudan border.

We remain extremely concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the region and the effect it might have on our humanitarian operation. Yesterday, UNHCR met refugee leaders from Goz Amir camp, some 10 km from Koukou village, who told us they feel exposed and very insecure after the latest attacks on Chadian villages. Minimum military reinforcements are just starting to arrive now in the Goz Beida area to secure the refugee camp areas.

There are an estimated 63,000 internally displaced people in eastern Chad. UNHCR and its partners assist 218,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad.