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Chad: funds urgently needed

Briefing notes

Chad: funds urgently needed

14 May 2004

Just a few weeks from the start of the rainy season in eastern Chad where over 120,000 Sudanese refugees have fled from fighting in Sudan's Darfur region, we desperately need funds to continue moving refugees to safer camps away from the border, set up more camps for the tens of thousands yet to move and bring in sufficient supplies to meet their needs.

Of the nearly $21 million we have asked for from donors, only 13 million has been contributed so far this year. We have now fully spent it and we are using the funds we have borrowed from our operational reserve funds to pay for the programme. An urgent injection of new funds is crucial to keep our programmes running and meet the looming deadline of the onset of heavy rains that will block roads and cut access to the refugees. We are also revising our budgets upwards in the face of continued refugee arrivals and the need to prepare additional camps. We are also expecting our NGO partners to increase their own presence and capacity. The situation at the border is very tense and the refugees are under constant threat of incursions from the other side of the border. Hence the urgency of moving them further inland.

We have also started up another series of airlifts to eastern Chad to bring in tents, trucks and supplies from Europe, Pakistan and Tanzania. In the past two weeks, we have flown in 3,500 family tents from Karachi, Pakistan, and 1,000 lightweight tents are scheduled to arrive on Monday. Last week, we also brought in 10 additional trucks to boost our capacity to move refugees from the border and haul supplies to the refugee camps, and 10 more trucks are coming within two weeks. We are also planning for another airlift of relief items including plastic sheeting, blankets, soap and jerry cans from our stockpiles in Ngara, Tanzania, as well as water bladders, generators and prefabricated warehouses from Europe and another 7,000 tents from Pakistan. In February, we mounted a 13-flight airlift of 511 tons of supplies from Tanzania, Pakistan and Denmark.

So far, we have set up six camps in the interior of Chad and over 68,000 refugees have found protection, a safe home and assistance there. Some 58,000 have come to the camps on our convoys from the border, while another 10,000 have come on their own upon hearing that help is available away from the border. The urgent quest for more camp sites continues in the midst of one of the most inhospitable terrains in which we have ever had to operate. Our staff continue to battle the desert to help the refugees, in the face of extremely scarce water supplies, sand storms, and thousands upon thousands of square kilometres of territory crisscrossed only by sandy roads in extremely poor condition.

Meanwhile, we continue to help the tens of thousands of refugees still encamped at the border. A distribution of relief supplies has been underway this week in Bahai and Cariari in the north, where some 27,000 refugees have been registered. We have also opened an office in Bahai this week to have a more regular presence among this group of refugees. Some 200 to 300 refugees continue to arrive each week in the north.