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Chad: UNHCR emergency team begins emergency assistance operations

Briefing notes

Chad: UNHCR emergency team begins emergency assistance operations

19 September 2003

A four-person UNHCR emergency team arrived in the eastern Chad town of Abéché yesterday (Thursday) to begin emergency assistance operations for an estimated 65,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The team is already working with local authorities on determining the best approaches for assisting the refugees, who are scattered across some 20 sites along the remote Sudan/Chadian border. The team's immediate priority is to work with the local authorities to re-group the refugees into at least four sites to improve access to them. However, the continuing rainy season in the area is likely to pose major challenges as dry river beds are now flooded, cutting off roads in some places.

The relocation of refugees will remain a priority as some of the refugees are also said to be living in villages and towns literally on the border between Chad and Sudan. There have been reports of incursions by armed elements and theft of livestock. We are, however, not able to verify these reports. Authorities have reported an attack on the Chadian town of Tine, where there are refugees. Tine, in Chad, is separated from Tine, Sudan, by a dry river bed. Authorities also say shrapnel has fallen on the Chadian side of the border near Tine. Refugees say they remain fearful of their safety and are not willing to return home for now.

Meanwhile, UNHCR is finalising arrangements to send in the first airlift of supplies for up to 40,000 refugees from its regional stockpile in Ngara, Tanzania. The first consignment is expected in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena early next week.