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UNHCR issues revised funding appeal for Darfur refugees

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UNHCR issues revised funding appeal for Darfur refugees

15 June 2004

15 June 2004

GENEVA - The UN refugee agency today issued a supplementary appeal for $55.8 million for emergency assistance to Sudanese refugees from Darfur whose steady influx into Chad is likely to reach 200,000 by the end of the year.

In the appeal to donors, UNHCR said its main concern was the immediate transfer of refugees along the inhospitable Chadian frontier before July when rains will make many roads impassable.

"Any delay would mean that the refugees continue to be exposed to protection hazards, ranging from military conscriptions, sexual and gender-based violence to lack of access to basic rights for assistance," it said.

The refugees began arriving into eastern Chad in mid-2003, fleeing aerial bombardment of their villages in Sudan's western region and brutal attacks by militiamen. They were scattered over a 600-km stretch of the Chad-Sudan border under a scorching sun and freezing nighttime temperatures.

UNHCR has trucked nearly 100,000 refugees from makeshift settlements to eight newly constructed camps in the interior. Between 50,000 and 90,000 refugees are still believed to be on the frontier. Hundreds more are arriving in the area. UNHCR is racing against time to get them into the camps before the rainy season starts.

UNHCR issued an appeal in February for $20.8 million for 110,000 beneficiaries for this year, but had to revise its budget upward with the steady influx from Sudan.

So far, UNHCR has received $18.4 million from donors. Lubbers, speaking in Geneva at a donor meeting on June 3, declared that funding for the relief effort is insufficient. "We are tapping into our own reserves, we are emptying our pockets," he said. "We cannot say that this is the humanitarian crisis of the day, and not fund the crisis."

The refugee agency has been airlifting urgently needed supplies and equipment since April into Chad. A total of 39 airlift flights have been made. Planes are continuing to bring in tents from Pakistan; blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and other items from Tanzania; trucks, generators and spare parts from Germany; and portable warehouses, plastic sheeting and four-wheel drive vehicles from Denmark. The entire airlift will boost stocks of non-food items on the ground to meet the needs of 150,000 refugees throughout the rainy season and the additional arrivals later on.

Water is a major problem in the area. Additional water is being trucked daily into four camps - Iridimi, Touloum, Mile and Farchana. Several more camps are being identified and need to be constructed to accommodate the remaining refugees at the border.