UN refugee agency to begin moving refugees from besieged Chadian border
TINE, Chad, Feb. 6 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency is this weekend moving to a temporary facility thousands of newly arrived Sudanese refugees encamped in a Chadian border town that came under a bombing attack last week.
The first convoy will transport 350 Sudanese refugees on Saturday from Tine to the newly built transit centre at Touloum, 80 km from the border area where UNHCR staff had registered 4,361 refugees.
Tine came under aerial bombardment last week that left at least three people dead and more than a dozen injured. The Khartoum government later announced it had mounted an offensive in the Sudanese part of Tine, which is split between Sudan and Chad by a dry river bed.
Following the incident, UNHCR deployed some of its resources being used to transport another group of refugees in the Adré region in the south-eastern part of Chad to a new camp at Farchana since Jan. 17.
More than 110,000 Sudanese refugees have arrived in Chad since fighting broke out in the Darfur region of Sudan last year. An estimated 18,000 of them came into Chad last month, fleeing aerial bombings and militia attacks.
The refugees are scattered over Chad's 600-km frontier in a semi-arid plain under a blistering sun during the day and freezing temperatures during the night. UNHCR staff, driving for days, had been attempting to locate them when the incident in Tine occurred.
Some 5,000 other new refugee arrivals in four locations south of Tine will also be moved to the transit site at Touloum.
A new full-scale camp is being set up at Touloum and will shelter the refugees as soon as it is completed.
Refugees told UNHCR teams in Tine earlier this week they were looking forward to moving away from the border as soon as possible as they don't feel safe there.
UNHCR's partner, the Chadian Red Cross, on Thursday began explaining the relocation process to the refugees. Twelve trucks will transport the refugees and their belonging, while two buses will carry the most vulnerable people - the sick and the elderly.
The Chadian refugee agency CNAR will check that the refugees have the token they received last week during the registration before they depart from Tine. The local gendarmerie will inspect the refugees' luggage to ensure the civilian nature of the convoy. Red Cross volunteers will be present during the movement, and a military truck with four gendarmes will escort the convoy.
Upon arrival in Touloum, the refugees will receive a 15-day supply of grain and beans from the World Food Programme and blankets, jerry cans, mats and soap from UNHCR. A water truck is also waiting at the site, and water bladders have already been installed. Water will be transported from a nearby source where several wells have been dug under the supervision of NCA (Norwegian Church Aid). MSF-Belgium is present in Touloum to provide medical assistance as needed.
Starting next Wednesday, the transit centre at Touloum will also receive the first of 5,194 refugees in the region of Ogona. Also next week, around 4,000 refugees in Birak will begin moving to a new camp at Kounoungo, near Guéréda.
In a further sign of generosity from the local Chadian population, on Thursday, refugees in Farchana received 150 sheep from the local Islamic NGO. The refugees were extremely grateful. Many of them said their livestock had been stolen by militia who crossed over from Sudan. One sheep was given per group of nine people.