Hundreds flee new fighting in Darfur; UNHCR opens 8th camp in Chad
ADRE, Chad, June 4 (UNHCR) - New fighting in Sudan's Darfur region has driven hundreds of refugees into eastern Chad this week as UNHCR steps up efforts to relocate them away from the border before the onset of the seasonal rains.
This morning, UNHCR staff in Chad reported that hundreds of new refugees continue to arrive around the Chadian border town of Adré, reportedly fleeing new fighting in Sudan's Tundubai, Koulbous and Kornoya districts. The influx began on Tuesday and shows no sign of slowing.
"We're sending additional staff and have increased our trucking capacity in Adré so we can more quickly move refugees to the newly constructed camp of Bredjing, which opened just over a week ago," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond at a news briefing in Geneva Friday.
Bredjing is one of seven camps in eastern Chad that together host more than 81,000 refugees who had been encamped for months along a 600-km stretch of Chad-Sudan border.
The refugee agency estimates that a total of 158,000 Sudanese have arrived in Chad after fleeing conflict in the Darfur region starting early last year. Hundreds are still arriving every week, and UNHCR and its partners have been rushing to move them away from the insecure border, which is subject to militia incursions from Sudan.
An eighth camp opened today at Djabal, near the southern part of the affected border zone. It will receive some 300 refugees from around the town of Ade on its first day of operation.
Meanwhile, heavy rains in the southernmost part of the refugee-hosting area have cut off several roads. Thankfully, an alternative route is still open between the town of Tissi and UNHCR's camp at Goz Amer. The agency is rushing to move the remaining 600 refugees in Tissi to the camp, which should require two more convoys to make the three-day trip to the camp.
As the rainy season looms, UNHCR continues to airlift relief supplies into Chad, with tents arriving from Pakistan, and blankets, jerry cans and other items leaving the agency's stockpiles in Tanzania next week. These will be in addition to supplies that have already arrived from Denmark and Germany. The agency hopes that these items will last some 150,000 refugees through the rainy season, when many areas will be inaccessible to aid.
UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie is currently in eastern Chad to get a closer look at the situation on the ground. Jolie, who has donated $50,000 for water projects for refugees in the arid region, will visit camps and the border region to help provide assistance to the desperate refugees.