Relief agencies to resume work in troubled Chadian camps
ABECHE, Chad, July 23 (UNHCR) - Following high-level talks with the Chadian government today, aid workers from the UN refugee agency and its implementing partners have been allowed to resume assistance for some 40,000 Sudanese refugees in two troubled camps in eastern Chad.
On Friday, representatives from UNHCR and other non-governmental organisations met with the Chadian Minister of Territorial Administration and the regional governor of Waddai district in Abéché, the main city in eastern Chad, to discuss their concerns about recent developments in Farchana and Breidjing camps.
International aid agencies had been ordered by the Chadian government to temporarily withdraw from the two camps after a spate of attacks on aid workers last week. Two refugees were killed yesterday when government troops entered Farchana camp to find those responsible for the attacks.
With only the Chadian government's refugee agency present in the camps, assistance and services for the refugees had ground to a halt. The provision of food, shelter and medical care had stopped, while water distribution and sanitation work had wound down, leaving the refugees dependent on shallow wells.
"We told the authorities that we deplored the loss of life, but they said they felt the situation had suddenly become untenable following the violence of last week," said UNHCR's Acting Representative in Chad, Stefano Severe, who attended Friday's meeting. "Our meetings today and the overall level of cooperation has been excellent. We now want to work on strengthening our dialogue with the refugees."
The Abéché meeting paved the way for aid workers to return to Farchana and Breidjing camps immediately. The Chadian authorities already restored water supplies in the camps yesterday.
There are some 11,800 refugees in Farchana camp and 30,000 in Breidjing camp. In all, some 150,000 Sudanese refugees now live in UNHCR's nine inland camps, most of them having been relocated by the agency from the insecure Chad-Sudan border.
Relocation convoys are still ongoing in north-eastern Chad as the region got a respite from heavy rains that had severed roads between the border and UNHCR's camps.
The airlift of relief supplies to Chad is also continuing. This weekend will see the start of flights from Spain that will send 60 four-wheel-drive vehicles and over 24,000 water buckets to the Chadian capital, N'Djamena. A separate airlift of 16,000 tents from Pakistan is scheduled to end on Monday.