UNHCR concerned for refugees in Chad as security deteriorates
Monday, 16 June 2008
GENEVA - The UN refugee agency is concerned for the security of tens of thousands of refugees and displaced people in Chad as the security situation rapidly deteriorates following clashes in the east of the country between the Chadian army and rebel groups over the weekend.
UNHCR is closely monitoring the security situation, which remains fluid.
UNHCR has maintained its presence in all 12 refugee camps in the east, which host some 250,000 refugees from the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan, but as a precautionary measure had to restrict staff movements and its activities. It has also limited its work to help some 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, also in the east, but hopes to resume its activities as soon as possible once the situation allows.
Abéché, UNHCR's main operating base in the east, was sealed off by the Chadian National Army on Monday, making movement very difficult.
On Saturday, government and rebel forces clashed in Goz Beida, a town close to the Sudanese border which hosts some 35,000 refugees in two refugee camps and tens of thousands of internally displaced persons. There were no reports of casualties of refugees or internally displaced people.
The European Union Force, EUFOR, intervened during clashes in Goz Beida. However, humanitarian workers were harassed by armed groups and there was looting of assets, including UNHCR satellite phones and non-food supplies. As the situation became calmer, EUFOR relocated humanitarian workers to a safer area. UNHCR hopes EUFOR will continue to provide and reinforce its protection to all refugees and displaced people as well as humanitarian personnel and assets.
UNHCR appeals to all sides in the Chadian conflict to respect humanitarian principles and calls for a peaceful resolution of the situation.
UNHCR and its partners run 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad sheltering some 250,000 Sudanese refugees. Another 56,000 refugees from the Central African Republic are in five camps in southern Chad.