Chad: Work begins on new camp for Sudanese
UNHCR and its partners are starting work this week on a new refugee camp in eastern Chad to accommodate Sudanese refugees who have fled the strife-torn Darfur region. The camp will be the 12th established in eastern Chad, where UNHCR has been searching intensively for sites with sufficient water resources to sustain large numbers of people - a daunting task in this arid region.
The new camp - called Gaga - is located east of the main town of Abéché. Initially, it will accommodate 15,000 refugees who are currently living at the overcrowded camps of Farchana and Breidjing. The new site could also take in refugees who are still living at the border, some 1,500 of whom have expressed the desire to move to a camp.
If the initial estimates of water supply at Gaga are confirmed, the camp could eventually shelter up to 30,000 refugees. But already, preliminary results from drilling done in recent weeks show that the water supply is sufficient to start building a new camp. Local Chadian authorities and traditional leaders have also agreed for a camp to be built in Gaga. UNHCR hopes that the new site will welcome its first refugees in April, before the onset of the rainy season.
In all, more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees live in camps in eastern Chad. The vast majority of the refugees were transferred by UNHCR from the volatile border zone in a major logistics operation over the past year. The two-year-old conflict in Darfur has also uprooted another 1.8 million people within Darfur itself.