Chad: Darfur refugees' fears of forcible return allayed by President's assurances
After the turmoil in Chad over the last few days, refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan in the east of the country were relieved to hear Monday that Chad had no intention of forcibly returning them to Sudan. Although still anxious about the recent political upheaval and fighting in Chad, their fears of expulsion were allayed after the High Commissioner António Guterres spoke to President Idriss Deby Itno on Sunday night who told him Chad had no intention of expelling the some 200,000 refugees back to their violent and insecure homeland across the border.
In the telephone conversation, President Deby expressed his concerns about the difficulty of providing security both to the refugees and to humanitarian organisations helping them. Recent security concerns have prompted UNHCR and its partners, as well as other UN organisations, to relocate non-essential staff from Chad. So far, some 35 UNHCR staff, out of a total of 280 national and international staff in the country, have been flown to Yaoundé, Cameroon on two UN flights - one from the capital and the other from Abéché in the east. We are now trying to strike the right balance between continuing essential services to refugees in the camps, who feel reassured by our presence, as well as security precautions for our staff. This is an ongoing exercise, but there are no immediate plans for any further evacuation flights.