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Chad: Sudanese relocation from second area to start tomorrow

Briefing notes

Chad: Sudanese relocation from second area to start tomorrow

6 February 2004

We're going to start moving Sudanese refugees from a second border area in Chad tomorrow. The first of thousands of Sudanese refugees will be taken to a transit centre further inside Chad from the border town of Tine, which came under bombing last week. The new transit centre at Touloum, 80 km from the border, will house the refugees for up to two weeks while a full-fledged camp to receive them is finished on the same site. Some 350 refugees will travel tomorrow, and additional groups will move on Sunday and the following days until all 4,361 refugees registered in the Tine area have been relocated.

This will be the second relocation operation from the border. The first began Jan. 17 from Wandalou in the Adré region, further to the south. That operation, which transports refugees to a new camp at Farchana, is continuing.

In Tine, UNHCR's partner, the Chadian Red Cross, started information activities yesterday to explain the relocation process to the refugees. Refugees interviewed earlier this week by UNHCR teams in Tine said that they wanted to move away from the border as soon as possible as they don't feel safe where they are now.

Some of the refugees arrived in Tine following bombing of their villages in January, while others fled earlier in 2003. They are gathered just inside Chad, only a few hundred metres from the military activity in Tine-Sudan. Tine-Sudan was under rebel control for the past months, but was retaken by governmental forces last Friday after heavy aerial bombing the day before.

Twelve trucks will transport the refugees and their belongings tomorrow. Two buses will also be used to carry the most vulnerable people. Before the refugees depart Tine, the Chadian agency CNAR (Commission Nationale pour l'Accueil et la Réinsertion des Réfugiés) will check that they have the token they received last week during the registration process. Luggage will then be inspected by the local gendarmerie to ensure the civilian nature of the convoy. Chadian Red Cross volunteers will be present during boarding, en route and upon arrival at the transit centre to assist the refugees. A military truck with four gendarmes will escort the convoy.

UNHCR and its partners have pre-positioned relief supplies in Touloum. Upon arrival, the refugees will receive a fifteen-day supply of grain and beans provided by the World Food Programme and blankets, jerry cans, mats and soap from UNHCR. All items will be distributed by UNHCR partner SECADEV (Secours Catholique). 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. NCA is finalizing the full-scale camp at Touloum to take in the refugees from the transit centre.

Starting next Wednesday, the transit centre at Touloum will also receive refugees staying in the region of Ogona, south of Tine. UNHCR teams registered 5,194 people in and around Ogona earlier this week and last week.

In Birak, also in the northern region, registration started last week and will be completed over the weekend. An estimated 4,000 refugees are believed to be in Birak village. The first relocation movement for this group is scheduled for late next week to Kounoungo, near Guéréda.

Meanwhile, another convoy leaves today from the Adré region to the camp at Farchana. Because UNHCR staff and transport capacity are simultaneously mobilized for the move from Tine, today's convoy from Adré will take a smaller number of refugees than previous transfers. Approximately 100 people will move today, and a similar number will move in the next convoy, scheduled for Monday.

Finally, in a further sign of generosity from the local Chadian population, refugees in Farchana on Thursday received 150 sheep from the local NGO Organization Islamique de Secours. The organization's members bought the sheep from local traders near Adré earlier this week. The refugees were extremely grateful, especially as many report that their livestock had been stolen by militia who crossed over from Sudan. The local Chadian population has provided much support and assistance to the Sudanese refugees since the crisis started in Darfur in February 2003.