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Central African Republic: Update on Chadian returns

Briefing notes

Central African Republic: Update on Chadian returns

27 September 2005

Just to update you on the situation of refugees in south Chad. Last week, we started the repatriation of some 1,500 Chadian refugees who had been staying in the Central African Republic (CAR) over the past two decades. So far we've returned 609 Chadians to their homeland in two convoys. The most recent was on Sunday, carrying 288 people from Bossangoa, CAR, to Amboko camp in south Chad. Bossangoa is about 285 km from the border Chad border, so it's quite a long journey. From Amboko camp, UNHCR and its Chadian partners transport the returnees back to their home regions and villages, in some cases temporarily housing them in local schools or other buildings. This is the rainy season and some returnees have to make the final leg to their villages on foot, cattle cart or canoe. The repatriation operation should be completed by early October.

These returnees are among thousands of Chadians who fled their country in the early eighties fleeing civil war. UNHCR had organized a first repatriation operation from 1999 to 2001, but this particular group of 1,500 at the time had decided to remain in CAR. But continuing insecurity in northern CAR over the past several months has now prompted them to return to Chad.

In another development, UNHCR is currently looking into recent reports from local authorities of some 170 CAR refugees who may have arrived from northern CAR two weeks ago after fleeing attacks by armed groups on their villages. The refugees are reportedly in Yamodo village, just on the Chadian side of the border. At the same time, UNHCR and its partners are continuing the relocation of more than 2,000 other refugees from CAR who crossed over to south Chad, in the Bekan area, in August. Those refugees are temporarily being relocated to Amboko camp before being transported within the next weeks to a new site. The Chadian authorities have agreed to develop a new site at Gondjé, about 6 km from Amboko.

In all, there are more than 40,000 refugees from CAR in southern Chad. Another 200,000 refugees from Darfur are hosted in 12 camps in the eastern part of Chad.