UNHCR starts moving Central African Republic refugees from flooded camps in Chad
N'DJAMENA, Chad, October 12 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency said on Friday it has started transferring thousands of Central African Republic refugees from flooded camps in southern Chad to a new site situated on higher ground.
The operation began on Monday and the refugees are being moved from the Yaroungou and Moula camps, which together host 17,000 people. The refugees were forced into exile in 2003 and 2008 due to political instability and armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR).
"We have moved 1,687 refugees in seven convoys to the new site at Paris-Sara. We organize convoys twice daily and expect to complete the relocation by the end of the month, assuming new rainfalls do not hamper movement," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said.
"Our hope is that the relocation will be a welcome break for the refugees of Yaroungou and Moula, where heavy seasonal rains have been causing extensive damage over the past three years," she added.
In the Moula camp, some 260 hectares of farmland are flooded. At Yaroungou, the floodwaters have destroyed 85 percent of the maize and rice crops. Stockpiles of food and seeds have also been wiped out as most of Chad is affected by flooding.
Heavy rains this year have caused serious damage in sites for refugees and internally displaced people across southern and eastern Chad. According to UNHCR estimates, it will cost US$3.5 million to rehabilitate damaged camp infrastructure.
Chad currently hosts more than 300,000 refugees in 18 camps. Twelve of the camps are in the east and host some 260,000 Sudanese refugees originating from Sudan's Darfur region. The other six camps in the south house some 60,000 people from Central African Republic. In addition to the refugees, there are 83,000 internally displaced Chadians staying in camps in the east and also receiving UNHCR assistance.
"Despite the immense humanitarian needs in Chad, it is one of our least funded operations, with only 25 percent of our budget of US$177 million received so far," Fleming said.