Chad: High Commissioner arrived
High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers arrives today in Chad, following a delay of his mission due to flight cancellations over the weekend. He is scheduled to arrive this morning in Abéché, the main town in eastern Chad, 850 km from the capital, N'Djamena. He is scheduled to meet in Abéché with Chadian President Idriss Deby, and with local authorities. They will discuss the situation of 110,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad, as well as 33,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in the south of the country.
The High Commissioner will then travel from Abéché to Farchana camp, 55 km from the border with Sudan, where he will meet with representatives of the refugees and with NGOs who are working in the camp. So far, 2,044 Sudanese refugees have been transferred to Farchana from Ouendalou and Absogo, just a few hundred metres from the border with Sudan. This is part of a major relocation effort by UNHCR and its partners to transfer tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees from insecure border areas to safer sites further inland. So far, more than 7,700 refugees have been transferred from various parts of the border zone to three inland camps.
Tomorrow, following a meeting with the French ambassador in N'Djamena, the High Commissioner will travel to Touloum, near Iriba, where a transit centre and camp are being set up to receive refugees relocated from the border areas north of Birak. Touloum currently hosts some 4,800 refugees.
Later tomorrow, the High Commissioner is scheduled to will meet with UNHCR staff in Abéché, and then fly back to N'Djamena, where he will give a press conference. He is scheduled to return to Geneva on Thursday.
Meanwhile, we continue to transfer refugees to the camps and bring in relief supplies for them. In the past three days, UNHCR and its partners transferred 586 refugees from sites in Tine and Guimeze to the transit centre in Kounoungo. At the same time, we relocated 496 refugees from Touloum to Kounoungo. We are moving refugees from Touloum to the new site of Kounoungo to stabilize the number of refugees on the site until water wells are operational. We will then be able meet the water needs of a higher number of refugees. Water is presently trucked from Iriba to the transit centre.
Also, UNHCR emergency airlift operations from Pakistan and Tanzania continue. The third of five scheduled airlift flights carrying tents and other relief items from Pakistan is set to arrive in Chad today. In addition, we are nearing completion of an airlift of blankets, plastic sheeting and other items from our stockpiles in Tanzania, with the sixth of seven scheduled flights arriving today. In all, the airlift operation that began in mid-February will have delivered 511 tons of urgently needed relief supplies to Chad, including an initial flight carrying aid from our emergency stockpiles in Copenhagen.