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UNHCR alarmed over possible impact of Chad violence on refugees

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UNHCR alarmed over possible impact of Chad violence on refugees

13 April 2006 Also available in:

Geneva, 13 April 2006

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres expressed alarm Thursday over violence in Chad and the possible consequences for the security and welfare of some 200,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region in camps in the east of the country.

"I urgently appeal to all sides in this political upheaval to respect the civilian character of the refugee camps and to leave in peace those who have already fled the terrors of Darfur," said Guterres.

Fighting was reported Thursday between government and rebel forces in the capital, N'Djamena, along with clashes in Adré in the east of the country. UNHCR runs 12 refugee camps in the east. The situation in the camps was reported calm Thursday morning.

After several armed men entered and briefly took control of the Goz Amer refugee camp on Monday afternoon, UNHCR and partners started to reduce staffing levels in some field offices in the east. Some staff remained to maintain essential services in the camps. The agency is also reviewing staffing levels elsewhere in the country in the wake of the fighting in the capital, and an evacuation of non-essential personnel and dependents is planned.

High Commissioner Guterres has warned in recent months that unrest on both sides of the Sudan-Chad border was posing a growing risk to civilians, the displaced and aid workers, as well as to overall regional stability.