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Chad: supplementary appeal for Sudanese; UNHCR office to reopen

Briefing notes

Chad: supplementary appeal for Sudanese; UNHCR office to reopen

3 October 2003

UNHCR yesterday launched a supplementary appeal for $16.6 million for emergency assistance to more than 65,000 Sudanese refugees who have been living under desperate conditions in eastern Chad. The appeal was launched during a briefing on Africa for delegates attending the 54th session of the annual Executive Committee (ExCom) that is scheduled to close today.

The requested funds are expected to cover the needs of refugees for the period beginning October 2003 to December 2004. We immediately need $6.2 million to provide urgent aid to the refugees between now and the end of the year. These funds will enable us to immediately provide shelter, health services, water, sanitation and logistics. Because of the remote border locations and inadequate infrastructure in this part of Chad, transport and communications is expected to be very expensive. Trucks and light vehicles will have to be purchased and aircraft hired to transport aid workers and relief items to the east of the country. Refugees will also have to be relocated from remote border locations to four new sites that have been identified. All these logistical needs are expected to drive up our operating costs substantially.

We also expect to spend nearly $1 million from the appeal on the installation of water supplies. In the absence of readily available sources of water such as rivers in eastern Chad, UNHCR will have to drill wells in an area whose water table is on average 100 metres deep.

The launch of the appeal comes amid continuing efforts by our emergency staff in eastern Chad to distribute aid to the refugees spread across more than a dozen sites along Chad's border with Sudan. A first consignment of relief supplies for up to 40,000 people drawn from our regional stockpile in Ngara, western Tanzania arrived in eastern Chad last week.

Other urgent concerns include refugee protection - ensuring refugees' right to safe and unhindered entry into Chad, as well as the physical security especially of the women and children who make up the majority of the refugees. Up to now, the Sudanese refugees have been allowed to enter freely into Chad. To meet all the basic needs, UNHCR has to mobilise staff to build the necessary shelters and infrastructure as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, we have received authorisation to re-establish a presence in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena. UNHCR closed its offices in Chad in December 2001. Additional offices will also be opened in southern Chad where there are 41,000 Central African refugees and in eastern Chad where we have the new influx of 65,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur region of western Sudan.