Chad to receive more than 1,700 tonnes of aid in ongoing airlifts
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 9 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency is continuing its worldwide airlift of more than 1,700 tonnes of emergency supplies for Sudanese refugees in Chad, hundreds of whom are still arriving weekly amid the start of seasonal rains.
On Wednesday, UNHCR completed the airlift of tents from Pakistan and started similar flights from Tanzania to rush an additional 280 metric tons of aid to Chad.
An Ilyushin 76 transport aircraft chartered by UNHCR was scheduled to leave Karachi in southern Pakistan on Wednesday evening with 778 tents bound for the Chadian capital, N'Djamena. This flight was the last of nine delivering a total of 7,000 made-in-Pakistan tents to Sudanese refugees who had fled fighting in the Darfur region into eastern Chad.
UNHCR has frequently bought tents for emergency operations from manufacturers in Pakistan, with contracts awarded on the basis of competitive bidding. In addition to its role as a source of materials used worldwide for refugees, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees in the decades since they first fled war in Afghanistan in 1979.
"Pakistan has worked closely with UNHCR for many years in humanitarian crises, helping refugees both through government cooperation and commercial contracts," noted the refugee agency's head in Pakistan, Guenet Guebre-Christos.
Also on Wednesday, UNHCR started another series of airlifts from Mwanza in western Tanzania that will deliver an additional 280 metric tons of aid - including 84,000 blankets, 8,000 kitchen sets, 16,000 jerry cans, plastic sheeting and hygiene materials - to the needy refugees in Chad.
Prior to Wednesday's airlifts, UNHCR had already flown more than 1,500 metric tons of tents, jerry cans, blankets and other supplies into Chad from Pakistan, Denmark and Tanzania in February and March. The assistance was supplemented by flights from Denmark and Germany in May.
The emergency supplies are expected to last 150,000 refugees through the rainy season, when roads will be rendered impassable and aid delivery will become almost impossible.
Already, the rains have arrived in the southern end of a 600-km stretch of Chad-Sudan border, where an estimated 158,000 Sudanese refugees have gathered after fleeing Darfur over the last year.
UNHCR has moved some 90,000 of them to eight camps further inland in eastern Chad, where they are protected against cross-border incursions and receive regular assistance.
The tents from Pakistan will prove especially useful in camps like Breidjing, which currently hosts 7,809 refugees relocated from the border but needs to be expanded to accommodate some 5,000 refugees who had arrived on their own.
Furthermore, hundreds of Sudanese refugees are still arriving in eastern Chad every week, with another 1 million believed to be displaced within the Darfur region.
High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, speaking in Geneva to senior government officials attending last week's High-Level Donor Alert Meeting and Consultations on Darfur, said despite the generosity of its people, impoverished eastern Chad was being severely affected by the influx and needs much more international assistance.
"It is not sustainable in Chad to receive more and more people coming in. It's really too poor," Lubbers said. "We are facing a disaster."