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High Commissioner's visit to Chad/Sudan

Briefing notes

High Commissioner's visit to Chad/Sudan

28 September 2004

The High Commissioner is in Sudan's capital of Khartoum today on the last leg of a five-day mission to Chad and Sudan to see the situation of refugees and displaced people from the strife-torn Darfur region. Later this morning, the High Commissioner is scheduled to meet senior government officials where he will press home the urgent need to end the continuing violence in Darfur and reduce the enormous gap of mistrust between the displaced and the authorities.

Major donors from the US, Japan, the European Union and Germany are accompanying Mr Lubbers on the trip. These donors account for the majority of the contributions to UNHCR's operations in Chad and other programmes.

On Sunday and Monday, Mr Lubbers visited two IDP camps in Darfur, near El Geneina and another one, Seliah, about 100km north of the regional capital. These camps are not run by UNHCR. Displaced people at Seliah told the High Commissioner of ongoing attacks if they left the camp and said up to three Darfurians had been killed by militia men outside the camp over the past few days. Mr Lubbers called for a complete end to violence and for the government to work with international agencies to rebuild confidence. He told the governor of West Darfur Abdalla Sulaiman Adam, the presence of international agencies helped signal to everyone on the ground that there should be no more violence. He also said through the provision of assistance and protection by international organisations the uprooted people in Darfur could gain confidence not to flee.

Before flying to El Geneina on Sunday, Mr Lubbers visited two of UNHCR's nine refugee camps in eastern Chad, and expressed concern about the rising level of tension between refugees and the local, impoverished population over resources such as firewood and grazing land. He announced a number of UNHCR-financed projects aimed at helping local people living near the refugee camps. These include generators for the hospitals at Goz Beida and Adré, the reconstruction of the local school in Bahai, the rebuilding of the water tower in Tine on the Sudanese border, and drilling a borehole for the hospital at Guéréda. A blanket supplementary feeding programme for children under five and pregnant and lactating women, which was launched in August, is also targeting Chadian villagers living near the refugee camps.