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Chad: UNHCR gravely concerned by growing numbers of attacks in south-east

Briefing notes

Chad: UNHCR gravely concerned by growing numbers of attacks in south-east

2 May 2006

UNHCR deeply regrets the deaths of four Chadian civilians and the wounding of five others yesterday in an attack near the village of Dolola, in south-eastern Chad, just a few kilometres from our refugee camp at Goz Amir. A group of some 150 armed men, described by the local population as janjaweed militia, surrounded villagers early Monday morning and opened fire on them. The wounded were transported to Goz Amir refugee camp and to the hospital in Goz Beida for treatment. The assailants stole about 1,000 head of cattle.

Goz Amir is one of a dozen UNHCR-run camps in eastern Chad and is currently home to some 17,700 Sudanese refugees from Darfur. Several hundred internally displaced Chadians have also settled near the camp in recent weeks, having fled earlier janjaweed attacks for the relative safety they hope to find in the refugee camp.

The growing numbers of attacks near Goz Amir camp is a matter of grave concern to UNHCR. High Commissioner António Guterres has repeatedly expressed his concerns in recent months over spreading insecurity in the remote border regions of Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic.

Despite the presence of about 18 Chadian gendarmes around each refugee camp in eastern Chad, there is a need to further increase security in the region. Local Chadian residents throughout the region are now telling our staff on the ground that they are very frightened, and that if humanitarian agencies were ever forced to withdraw from the area, they too would have to move in search of a safer haven.

Our teams in Chad will continue to closely follow developments and to collaborate with Chadian authorities in ensuring that the protection of civilians remains a top priority. Our staff will also continue awareness campaigns aimed at maintaining the civilian character of all refugee sites and at discouraging any efforts to recruit refugees into armed conflict.

There are more than 200,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad. There are also 46,000 refugees from the northern part of the Central African Republic in southern Chad.