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Chad: Inter-agency assessment mission report

Briefing notes

Chad: Inter-agency assessment mission report

12 September 2003

An inter-agency mission which travelled to eastern Chad on Wednesday to assess the needs of more than 65,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan report a further influx of hundreds of Sudanese refugees. Newly-arriving refugees told the inter-agency mission that despite a cease-fire agreement, Sudan government forces have continued to bomb villages in the west of the country. The mission travelled to the town of Agan, close to the Sudan/Chad border, on Thursday and witnessed a new arrival of some 800 refugees. These new arrivals bring to nearly 5,000 the total number of refugees in the small border town - one of 20 sites along the Sudan/Chadian border hosting the estimated 65,000 Sudanese refugees who have recently fled to Chad.

The inter-agency mission consisting of staff of UNICEF, WFP, MSF-Belgium, UNHCR and Chadian government officials travelled from the Chadian capital, Ndjamena, to the eastern town of Abéché on Wednesday aboard an aircraft donated by the government of France. From Abéché, the team travelled by road to one of the sites hosting refugees, some 170 km away. However, because of difficult road conditions, it took them more than five hours to get to Agan.

Refugees in Agan are living in desperate conditions. There is no potable water. Refugees who are out in the open are drinking stagnant rain water. They are exposed to all the elements in an area that is prone to high temperatures in the day, dust storms and chilly weather at night. Respiratory tract diseases, malaria and diarrhoea continue to be reported, particularly among children.

Local officials told the inter-agency mission that they had not been able to visit an estimated 5,000 refugees believed to be in the town of Kissi, where the borders of Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic converge. A combination of poor road conditions and insecurity in this part of Chad make this area difficult to reach.

UNHCR has asked local authorities to regroup the refugees into at least four sites to improve access to them. In the meantime, representatives of agencies who participated in the assessment mission are meeting in Ndjamena this morning to consolidate their findings and proposals for urgent aid to the group.