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Efforts stepped up to improve refugee camp security in eastern Chad

Briefing notes

Efforts stepped up to improve refugee camp security in eastern Chad

1 October 2004

UNHCR and Chadian authorities are stepping up efforts to improve security in and around refugee camps in eastern Chad in the wake of increasing violence against Sudanese refugees. Three refugees have been killed in recent days.

The 180 Chadian gendarmes (20 of whom are women), deployed under an agreement between UNHCR and the Chadian government, have begun patrols in and around the refugee camps. To support their work, UNHCR handed over nine vehicles yesterday to the Chadian National Committee for Assistance to Refugees (CNAR) for use by the gendarmes.

Refugees and Chadian authorities blame Chadian nomads for the recent violence, saying the local people who live in villages near the camps are not responsible. Nevertheless, the incidents are indicative of increasing tension between the refugees and the local population due to a lack of resources. While the Sudanese refugees were openly welcomed by Chadians belonging to the same ethnic groups when they crossed the border, there is some resentment among local people who now say the refugees in the camps live better than they do.

Last Friday, a man riding a camel shot a refugee who was tending his animals some 20 kilometres from Mile camp. The refugee was wounded in the leg and died later at a hospital. On Monday, two refugees were killed between the towns of Iriba and Mile for unknown reasons.

On Tuesday near Mile camp, eight armed men on horseback stole some 100 sheep after threatening a refugee who was guarding them. That same day, another refugee guarding his animals about 20 kilometres from Mile was shot in the arm and his horse was stolen. He walked all night back to the camp after losing a great deal of blood.

Last week, five girls and two boys who had walked 30 kilometres from Kounoungo camp to gather wood were attacked by five men, who beat them and raped one of the girls. They returned to the camp two days later after being released.

UNHCR is also working to ease tensions between the local population and the refugees. During his just-completed visit to Chad with major donors, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said more must be done to help the Chadians. He called on donors to increase contributions to help local communities around the 10 UNHCR camps in eastern Chad. Lubbers also announced a number of UNHCR-financed projects aimed at helping local people living near the refugee camps.