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Chad: Movement of 10,000 Central Africans away from border begins

Briefing notes

Chad: Movement of 10,000 Central Africans away from border begins

15 July 2005

In a race against the rainy season, UNHCR and its partners have begun moving the first of some 10,000 Central African refugees from the remote border area of southern Chad further inland to Amboko camp. Two convoys, on Wednesday and yesterday, have so far moved a total of 326 refugees from makeshift sites on the border to Amboko, which is 6 km from the region's main town of Goré.

On Wednesday morning, three trucks carrying the first 97 refugees made their way through rain-flooded areas around Betel village, where 3,000 refugees are staying, to Amboko camp. The convoy arrived in Amboko after a five-hour drive. The distance is less than 75 km, so you can imagine the conditions. It was escorted by Chadian gendarmes as there are frequent bandit attacks in the area. Yesterday morning, amid a heavy downpour, we managed to transfer an additional 229 refugees in eight trucks to Amboko. The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Chadian Red Cross are also providing trucks.

Upon arrival at Amboko, the refugees, mostly women and children, are registered by UNHCR and the local CNAR (Commission Nationale d'Accueil et de réinsertion des réfugiés). They are then provided with WFP [World Food Programme] food rations, including beans, sorghum, oil and sugar, as well as with UNHCR relief items such as mats, jerry cans, and kitchen utensils.

The refugees are part of a group of 10,000 refugees who arrived in Chad last month after fleeing clashes between government troops and armed groups in northern Central African Republic, where banditry and rebel activity are reportedly rife. Those who are awaiting relocation to Amboko are currently living under difficult conditions in 17 villages scattered along the Chadian side of the border. Most of them live in shelters made of leaves and sticks. We are rushing to get them all relocated to a single site before they are isolated by flooding.

Amboko already hosts 13,000 refugees who fled the Central African Republic following a 2003 military coup, but the camp can accommodate up to 27,000 people. The Chadian government has provided UNHCR with additional land to build a temporary transit centre at the camp.

The relocation operation is expected to be completed within a maximum of three weeks.