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UNHCR moves over 800 new Central African refugees to Chadian camp

UNHCR moves over 800 new Central African refugees to Chadian camp

The UN refugee agency is transferring hundreds of Central African refugees who arrived in southern Chad in the last two weeks to an existing refugee settlement. The agency is also working with the Chadian authorities to find a new site in case of a further influx.
26 August 2005
An earlier group of Central African refugees waiting to be moved to Amboko camp in southern Chad in July 2005.

GORE, Chad, August 26 (UNHCR) - Hundreds of Central African refugees who recently arrived in southern Chad have been transferred to an existing camp where they can be better assisted. The UN refugee agency is also working with the Chadian authorities to find a new site in case of a further influx from the Central African Republic (CAR).

UNHCR on Tuesday started moving the new arrivals from Békoninga village in southern Chad to Amboko refugee settlement. More than 800 have so far been transferred in an operation expected to last two weeks. By the time the transfers are completed, Amboko would have reached its full capacity of 27,000 people.

The camp, which already hosts some 21,000 Central African refugees who arrived earlier, has had its water distribution system and latrines repaired and upgraded to accommodate the new refugees.

Numbering some 4,000 new arrivals in the last two weeks, this is the second major wave of Central African refugees to southern Chad this year. In June and July, an estimated 10,000 Central Africans arrived in Chad following clashes between government forces and unidentified armed groups back home.

"Approximately half of the new arrivals cite insecurity in their villages as the reason for leaving. Reference is made particularly to incidents on August 7 and 9 in the Paoua region of northern CAR," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva on Friday. "Some of the refugees cite conflicts over land and livestock with cattle breeders of a different ethnic origin as their reason for departure. This is the first time that such conflicts have been advanced as the reason for flight."

He added that the high level of insecurity along the Chad-Central African border has led to the reactivation of the two countries' joint protocol on cross-border security, including joint border patrols.

"Discussions are underway with the authorities to identify a new refugee site, hopefully close to Amboko in order to fully exploit the settlement's social infrastructure and services," said Redmond. "Finding a new camp is a high priority for our staff on the ground to allow them to cope with any new influx from CAR."

Last weekend alone, some 300 new arrivals were reported, he said, adding however that when an inter-agency team went to the spontaneous settlement at Matiti, they found only 40 refugees there. Various sources say the others had returned to the Central African Republic, possibly to collect their belongings.

Southern Chad now hosts more than 35,000 Central African refugees, most of them in Amboko and Yaroungou refugee camps. The majority arrived in 2003 after fleeing a military coup back home.

In addition to these refugees in the south, eastern Chad is also home to more than 200,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region.