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Eastern Chad: UNHCR saddened by killing of government partner

Briefing notes

Eastern Chad: UNHCR saddened by killing of government partner

27 October 2009 Also available in:

A Chadian colleague working for our government counterpart in eastern Chad was killed in an ambush over the weekend. Michel Mitna was head of the Chadian refugee body CNAR (Commission National d'Accueil et de Réinsertion des réfugiés) in Guéréda and worked daily with UNHCR to protect and assist refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in this volatile region.

Mitna was riding about 110 km north-east of Abéché at 0800 Saturday (local time) in a vehicle clearly marked with the CNAR and UNHCR logos when he was attacked by armed bandits and killed. His driver was wounded and the unidentified bandits managed to escape. The 40 year-old Mitna leaves behind a wife and five children. He had worked in eastern Chad for six years, and in a display of solidarity and sorrow, our staff in Guéréda did not work on Monday.

UNHCR is deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic killing. This is the 51st armed attack on a humanitarian vehicle in eastern Chad this year alone, 31 of which belonged to UNHCR and its partners. Just last week for example, five staff working for Première Urgence, a French NGO that is our partner in the area of Farchana, were kidnapped while travelling in convoy. The bandits only freed the kidnapped staff when their hijacked vehicle was involved in an accident. Two of the five aid workers are still in hospital in N'Djamena.

Humanitarian workers in eastern Chad constantly face security threats while working to alleviate the plight of tens of thousands of civilians who fled generalized violence and conflict. Armed banditry is the greatest security threat for aid workers in this area neighbouring the Darfur region of Sudan.

In spite of the security constraints, UNHCR has been working with CNAR and many international humanitarian agencies in eastern Chad to assist some 250,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps since 2003, as well as 160,000 internally displaced Chadians since 2006.