Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Acting High Commissioner to visit Sudan and Chad

Briefing notes

Acting High Commissioner to visit Sudan and Chad

15 April 2005 Also available in:

Acting High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin leaves Sunday on a five-day mission to Sudan and Chad, where she will visit UNHCR staff working to help hundreds of thousands of refugees and others displaced by the conflict in Darfur. Ms. Chamberlin's mission follows this week's Oslo donors' conference on Sudan. She will now use her upcoming mission to meet with the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and other agencies on the ground to assess how our operations are funded so that we can carry out vital protection work.

The continuing insecurity and massive displacement in the Darfur region make it one of the most difficult protection environments UNHCR faces anywhere. The two-year conflict has uprooted over 2 million people - 1.8 million of them displaced within Darfur and 200,000 others now across the border in our camps in neighbouring Chad. Although it's difficult, those in Chad at least have regular access to help and protection. That's not the case in Darfur, where millions are displaced in hundreds of makeshift settlements, towns and villages spread across a vast area of western Sudan.

Ms. Chamberlin wants to meet with UNHCR staff and partners on the ground in Darfur to discuss their efforts to protect and assist people in areas of displacement. UNHCR has a presence in West Darfur's capital, El Geneina, as well as in the eastern town of Zalingei and in the South Darfur town of Nyala. Six additional field offices are being established in West Darfur, as well as one in El Fasher, North Darfur. UNHCR's roving protection teams travel to villages throughout West Darfur, and particularly along the border with Chad, to monitor the safety and well-being of displaced people and to look into any indications of possible refugee movements towards Chad. They are also on the lookout for any people who may be trying to return to their homes. UNHCR and its partners have also set up 23 centres in West Darfur to provide support to traumatised displaced women.

Following a day of meetings Monday with government officials and partners in Khartoum, Ms. Chamberlin is scheduled to travel to Darfur on Tuesday. She will visit Nyala, Zalingi, El Geneina and Kulbus on Tuesday and Wednesday before crossing into Chad. There, she will view our operations in and around the eastern town of Abéché and camps in remote northern areas where UNHCR and its partners face enormous logistical challenges in providing assistance to tens of thousands of refugees. Following meetings in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, she is scheduled to depart for Geneva on Friday.

The Darfur conflict is affecting not just the countries immediately surrounding Sudan, but others much further away. Since January, for example, UNHCR has registered 240 new Sudanese asylum seekers in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. Most of them are young men in their late teens or early 20s. Most of them say they came from the north and west of Darfur, and fled after attacks on their villages by both janjaweed and rebels between May 2003 and February 2005. Some claim to have reached Ghana in just a few days, while others remained in Chad for months and then took several more months to reach Ghana. They say they travelled via eastern Chad and through either Cameroon or Niger or Nigeria, and then across Togo and Benin. Most of them are now living in a partially constructed building in a public park in central Accra. The rate of arrivals appears to be gradually increasing, with 86 in March and 49 in the first two weeks of this month.