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UNHCR launches $6.2 million appeal for internally displaced Chadians

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UNHCR launches $6.2 million appeal for internally displaced Chadians

27 February 2007 Also available in:

Tuesday 27 February 2007

GENEVA - The UN refugee agency today announced a US$6.2 million supplementary appeal to fund protection and assistance programmes for tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in eastern Chad.

The latest appeal is in addition to UNHCR's 2007 annual budget of $69.3 million for some 220,000 refugees from Sudan's neighbouring Darfur region in 12 camps in eastern Chad, and another 46,000 from the Central African Republic (CAR) in the south of the country.

Chad, already struggling to cope with the refugees from Darfur and CAR, is now faced with the internal displacement of up to 120,000 of its own citizens amid spreading regional insecurity. The displacement began in late 2005 and worsened in 2006 with a series of brutal inter-ethnic attacks, exacerbated by competition for scarce water, grazing land and other resources - mostly in the south-east of Chad. The new appeal includes a planning figure of up to 150,000 internally displaced by the end of 2007.

The new appeal will cover a variety of protection and assistance needs for internally displaced Chadians, including the transfer of up to 20,000 of them from makeshift spontaneous settlements to more organised sites. It will also cover regular UNHCR missions to IDP settlements; assistance to victims of gender-based violence; family tracing; profiling of displaced populations; monitoring of returns to some 150 villages; provision of emergency shelter and other non-food relief materials; and construction of site infrastructure.

The appeal acknowledges the difficulties of carrying out humanitarian work amid the growing insecurity in much of eastern Chad.

"Due to the security situation, agencies are operating in very difficult conditions which have limited their access to IDPs," the appeal says, noting that many agencies have had to relocate staff several times. "In addition, the rainy season [from May to October] renders travel in the region difficult as many roads are impassable."

In a Feb. 23 report to the UN Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed sending a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Chad to protect civilians and deter cross-border attacks. The mission would have a multi-dimensional mandate ranging from ensuring the security of civilians, maintaining law and order in refugee camps and towns housing humanitarian field offices, and border deployment, to facilitating free movement of aid, improving relations between Chad, Sudan and CAR, and supporting dialogue.

Few humanitarian agencies have staff or offices in areas of displacement. In addition, most IDPs are scattered in numerous villages rather than in organised sites. Local authorities only have limited resources and little capacity to deal with the enormous needs of displaced populations.

The appeal notes that the attacks in eastern Chad have mirrored the pattern of violence in Sudan's Darfur region, with armed, mainly Arab men on horseback and camels attacking and burning African villages, destroying crops, stealing cattle, terrorizing villagers and killing many inhabitants. The attacks allegedly involve mostly Chadian groups, with some degree of cooperation from the Sudanese Janjaweed militia. To counter these repeated attacks, poorly armed villagers have increasingly organized themselves into self-defence groups, but are still no match for the attackers.

The appeal says that inter-communal fighting intensified in 2006. A first wave of violence, from February to April 2006, saw several Chadian villages near the border with Sudan attacked. Villagers moved to what they thought would be safer areas, but were then attacked again, and again displaced. Despite efforts by Chadian authorities, the attacks continue. In November, a series of brutal raids on some 50 villages left over 250 people dead, hundreds wounded, at least 30 villages destroyed and 25,000 newly displaced.

In December, another wave of attacks on villages in the Koukou-Angarana area left 30 people dead, including 10 Sudanese refugees from Goz Amir camp who were collecting crops in nearby fields.

Currently, there are at least 25 settlements of internally displaced people in the south-eastern Chad departments of Assougha, Bahr Azoum, Dar Sila, Dar Tama and Ouara. The appeal notes that the real extent of the displacement in south-eastern Chad remains difficult to assess as many displaced families are living in local villages.

To date, UNHCR has received $14 million, including $8 million from the United States, for its 2007 annual programme in Chad.