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Chad: latest arrivals report new fighting in Sudan's Tundubai, Koulbous and Kornoya districts

Briefing notes

Chad: latest arrivals report new fighting in Sudan's Tundubai, Koulbous and Kornoya districts

4 June 2004

Hundreds of new refugees have fled into eastern Chad this week. At the same time, we are opening a new camp today and increasing our transport capacity in the southernmost part of the border region, where heavy rains have already begun to cut off roads and make access difficult. A UNHCR emergency airlift is also continuing.

UNHCR staff in Chad just reported this morning that hundreds of new refugees are continuing to arrive around the border town of Adré, reportedly fleeing new fighting in Sudan's Tundubai, Koulbous and Kornoya districts. The influx began on Tuesday and shows no sign of slowing. We're sending additional staff and have increased our trucking capacity in Adré so we can more quickly move refugees to the newly constructed camp of Breidjing, which opened just over a week ago.

The new camp opening today, Djabal, is the eighth set up so far and the second in the southern section of the 600-km-long affected region. Today's first convoy to Djabal is relocating some 300 refugees from around the town of Ade. In all, more than 81,000 refugees are now at the seven other camps, most of them transferred from the border on our relocation convoys.

Our teams working in the southernmost part of the refugee-hosting border zone have reported that heavy rains have already started. Several roads in the region are cut off. Fortunately, an alternative route is still open between the town of Tissi and our camp in the south at Goz Amer. We are rushing to move the remaining 600 refugees in Tissi to the camp, which should require two more convoys to make the three-day trip to the camp.

High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers told senior government officials attending yesterday's High-Level Donor Alert Meeting and Consultations on Darfur that torrential rains expected in the coming weeks will hamper our ability to reach, relocate and assist refugees scattered along Chad's long border with Sudan. Lubbers warned that people fleeing Darfur are "facing a disaster" unless peace is restored to the area and stressed that funding for the relief effort is insufficient for the enormous needs.

Meanwhile, UNHCR's emergency airlift into Chad continues, with the third flight with tents from Pakistan scheduled to arrive in N'Djamena today. The fourth Pakistan flight is planned for tomorrow and another five flights will take place next week. The airlift from Tanzania with blankets, jerry cans and other relief items from our stocks in Ngara will start up next Wednesday, June 9. Seven flights are planned from Tanzania to complete the airlift of 18 flights in all including planes from Denmark and Germany which have already arrived in Chad.

We now estimate that there are some 158,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad. Hundreds of refugees have been fleeing every week for the past two months, adding to the overall population in eastern Chad. At the same time, over the past weeks and months, we have been working with the Chadian authorities to register as many of the refugees along the border as possible. This has given us a better picture of the overall refugee situation in eastern Chad. However, the figure is still an estimate, since the vastness of the region and the extensive border make a completely accurate headcount impossible.

UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie is in eastern Chad today to spend two days working alongside UNHCR's field staff in their efforts to assist the Sudanese refugees and move them to camps at a safer distance from the border.

She will be going to camps which have been receiving refugees relocated from the border. She also plans to spend some time at the border itself to see first-hand the conditions of the refugees there and help with distribution of emergency rations and relocation operations.

In March, Ms. Jolie donated $50,000 for water projects for refugees in the arid eastern Chad region.