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Chad: Continuing arrivals from Central African Republic

Briefing notes

Chad: Continuing arrivals from Central African Republic

21 February 2006 Also available in:

The number of refugees fleeing violence in the northern Central African Republic (CAR) continues to climb, with more than 4,000 new arrivals so far this month in neighbouring southern Chad. They continue to arrive in Chad at a rate of about 200 a day, according to UNHCR staff in the region.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), UNHCR will move 300 of the newly arrived Central Africans from the border to the Gondjé refugee site, near Goré, the main town in south Chad. More will be transferred to camps in the coming days.

Many refugees report that they fled attacks by government forces on civilians whom CAR troops suspected of supporting various rebel groups. Refugees also mention raids by rebel groups who attack their villages to loot food and cattle, as well as to forcibly recruit young men. The refugees also cite attacks by bandits, or coupeurs de route. And some refugees have told UNHCR they have been victims of all three groups - rebels, government soldiers and bandits. While UNHCR is unable to verify these accounts - we do not have a presence in northern CAR for security reasons - we take them seriously given the number of similar reports we've heard from numerous refugees.

At least 50 civilians have been killed during attacks in northern CAR since the beginning of February, according to refugees, but the death toll could be far higher.

Arriving refugees say there are still many civilians hiding in the bush of northern CAR after having fled their villages, and who remain fearful of returning to their homes. This leads us to expect that the influx to Chad will continue.

The majority of the refugees cross at Bekoninga, a Chadian village of some 600 inhabitants about 500 metres from the CAR border. UNHCR has mobilized additional staff from its other field offices in southern and eastern Chad to help expedite the registration process, and to assist in the identification of the most vulnerable refugees.

UNHCR and Chadian authorities are discussing the possibility of opening a third refugee site, after Amboko and Gondjé, near Goré in light of continued refugee arrivals from the CAR. Some 45,000 refugees from the Central African Republic currently reside in three camps in southern Chad. Gondjé refugee camp, 12 km west of Goré, opened in December 2005 to decongest the overcrowded neighbouring Amboko camp site.

Chad also hosts more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region in 12 camps in the eastern part of the country.