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Chad: Sudanese refugees receive emergency food aid

Briefing notes

Chad: Sudanese refugees receive emergency food aid

31 October 2003

We have begun distributing emergency food aid along Chad's eastern frontier, where thousands of Sudanese refugees, mostly women and children, are encamped in a dozen sites after fleeing the rebellion-torn Darfur region in western Sudan. A UNHCR relief convoy offloaded supplies of sorghum and oil on Monday at Toumtouma, 42 km north of the border town of Adré, centre of our emergency operations. On Wednesday it proceeded to Kolkol, 25 km away. This supplementary diet is for the most vulnerable group of refugees numbering around 1,000 in the two sites. Chadian military escorts went with the convoy.

We had earlier handed out plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets and jerry cans to these refugees. Local refugee committees were told to bring carts and donkeys to transport the food supplies from the World Food Programme to their encampments in the semi-arid border region. Each family group of six received three sacks of sorghum and four jerry cans of oil.

The Red Cross, our main implementing partner, will handle general food distribution. We are awaiting the deployment of the Red Cross staff in the region where security is one of our major concerns. There are land mines scattered in the area and there have been reports of cross-border raids. However, further delays in the general food distribution would prejudice the fragile health of the refugees and their peaceful coexistence with the local population during this fasting month of Ramadan.

The first Sudanese refugees came into Chad in April following an uprising by the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) in Darfur state earlier in the year. By July, the Chadian government said some 65,000 Sudanese had fled into Chad. On Sept. 4, the Khartoum government and SLM hammered out a 40-day cease-fire while peace talks were being conducted.

Early this month, UNHCR launched an appeal for $16.6 million dollars for emergency assistance to the refugees. The amount would cover provision of shelter, health services, water and sanitation facilities through the yearend in a remote region where there is little basic infrastructure.