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Chad: relocation of Sudanese refugees away from Tissi begins

Briefing notes

Chad: relocation of Sudanese refugees away from Tissi begins

7 May 2004

Yesterday, we started moving the first of thousands of Sudanese refugees from the Chadian border town of Tissi. This town is at the southernmost tip of the 600-km stretch of Chad-Sudan border where refugees have been fleeing to escape fighting in Sudan's Darfur region. In all, as of May 6, we have moved 52,444 refugees from the border to the five camps we've set up to date further inside Chad. In addition, some 7,000 refugees have arrived on their own at the camps.

The convoy from Tissi, carrying 269 refugees, is scheduled to arrive tonight in Goz Amer camp. The trip from Tissi takes 15 hours due to the extremely poor road conditions. UNHCR and our Chadian partner, CNAR, have registered 7,300 refugees in the Tissi area - 5,800 of whom have said they want to move to a camp further away from the border. The others have decided to stay in Tissi, mainly because they want to stay close to their relatives in the area.

The next convoy to Goz Amer camp will take place on Sunday, relocating refugees from Routrou, near Tissi. Local authorities estimate that there are 4,000 refugees in this area who say they want to move to camps because they fear incursions from the janjaweed militia.

At the same time, in Goz Amer camp, our Italian NGO partner COOPI started a four-day polio vaccination campaign on Wednesday. UNHCR is providing transport for refugees to the vaccination points. COOPI has also started to expand the vaccination campaign to the local population.

Also in the south, a UNHCR team will fly today to Goz Beida and then drive to the UNHCR office in Koukou Angarana to evaluate how to make the airstrip in Koukou operational as quickly as possible. In about three weeks, it will be impossible to access the region by road because of the rains.

Meanwhile, at the northernmost point of the affected border zone, a UNHCR protection officer will be posted in Bahai starting this weekend. The staff member, who arrived in eastern Chad yesterday, will work closely with the local authorities and the International Rescue Committee to assist the refugees in Bahai and Kariari. UNHCR and CNAR have registered 15,320 refugees in Bahai, and 10,864 in the Kariari area. A total of 540 refugees who were found to be in very bad health in Korfou, north of Bahai, have now been moved to Touloum camp, where they can get medical attention. Two UNHCR medical staff have also arrived in the East and will travel to Bahai tomorrow to evaluate the nutritional situation in the area, accompanied by a WHO staff member who has also just arrived in the East.