High Commissioner returns from Chad emergency, briefs donors on updated budget requirements
GENEVA, March 5 (UNHCR) - Hours after returning from a three-day Africa mission, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers on Friday briefed donor governments on UNHCR's emergency efforts to help tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in remote eastern Chad.
Lubbers, who spent two days in eastern Chad getting a first-hand look at UNHCR's work for some 110,000 Sudanese refugees, also presented donor governments with the agency's revised budget of $20.8 million for 2004 for the emergency operation.
"Many of the refugees I met in eastern Chad were traumatised by their flight from the Darfur region of Sudan and were not at all ready to consider going home," the High Commissioner said. "I do not see them returning anytime soon, and therefore we are planning for the needs of 110,000 people for the rest of this year in Chad. We have a lot of work to do in a very difficult environment, but our UNHCR teams and their partners on the ground are doing a tremendous job. We need continued donor help."
For the first half of 2004, the revised budget will enable UNHCR to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the refugees and focus on their relocation away from the insecure border area to safer camps further inland. The agency and its partners are currently rushing to relocate as many refugees as possible before the start of the rainy season in May, when roads will become impassable.
Since mid-January, more than 8,000 refugees have been transferred to three inland camps at Farchana, Touloum and Kounoungo. UNHCR also completed on Friday an emergency airlift of more than 500 tons of relief supplies to Chad from stockpiles in Denmark, Tanzania and Pakistan.
The majority of refugees remain close to the border, where some are still vulnerable to raids by militia groups from Sudan. UNHCR and its partners have so far been able to identify five sites that have enough water to accommodate 6,000 to 8,000 refugees each. During the year, the agency will have to provide for both the improvised border refugee settlements as well as the new camps further inland. In the camps, the refugees will receive protection as well as food and non-food aid, health care, community services, education and income generation projects - provided by UNHCR and several partners.
The revised budget includes nearly $5 million for transport and logistics; $3.1 million for operational support to partner agencies; $2.77 million for protection, monitoring and coordination; $1.46 million for shelter and other infrastructure; $1 million for water; $850,000 for domestic needs and household support; and $819,000 for community services.