UNHCR launches new wave of humanitarian airlifts to eastern Chad
N'Djamena, CHAD, May 25 (UNHCR) - In an effort to pump sufficient aid supplies into eastern Chad before the start of the five-month-long rainy season, the UN refugee agency today launched a new wave of an emergency humanitarian airlift for the 125,000 Sudanese refugees who have sought safety in Chad. The airlift will fly in more than 500 tons of urgently needed relief supplies from Denmark, Germany, Pakistan and Tanzania.
The first plane, an Ilyushin 76, was scheduled to depart today from Billund, Denmark with 2,000 plastic sheets, 250 rolls of plastic sheeting, 6 prefabricated warehouses and 3 four-wheel-drive vehicles. The goods should arrive in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, early Wednesday morning, where they will be offloaded onto trucks for onward transport to Abéché in eastern Chad. The trip by truck to Abéché takes several days.
On Thursday, the refugee agency will begin a series of flights from Karachi, Pakistan to supply 7,000 tents which are urgently needed for the new camps currently receiving refugees relocated from the border area. The tents will be dispatched to the three most recently established camps - Mille in the north, Breidjing in the central part of the region and Goz-Amer to the south.
Early next week, an Antonov 124 scheduled to depart from Germany on May 31 will bring in 10 trucks to beef up the agency's capacity to move refugees from the border and to transport supplies to the camps. The flight will also carry registration materials, water bladders, generators, spare parts and buckets.
More supplies will also be flown in from stocks in Ngara, Tanzania, including 84,000 blankets, 6,000 sheets of plastic, 1,450 rolls of plastic sheeting, 16,000 jerry cans, 8,000 kitchen sets and personal items.
The massive international airlift is the second mounted by UNHCR so far this year. In February and March, UNHCR brought in 511 tonnes of tents, jerry cans, blankets and other supplies on 13 flights from Denmark, Tanzania and Pakistan.
The agency estimates that some 125,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad so far and it expressed concern about the possibility of additional arrivals.
"We fear that this figure of 125,000 could increase very quickly if the situation does not improve in Darfur where there are close to one million displaced persons in camps," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland. "A new influx to Chad of these IDPs is not excluded, which will bring a new challenge to the humanitarian community."
Meanwhile, refugees continue to move to the inland camps from the border, with nearly 77,000 relocated to date. Water remains the major challenge for establishing new camps and developing the capacity of existing camps. The newest camp, Breidjing, now has three wells, dug by the Chadian organization Projet Evangelique Developpement Communautaire (PEDC). Three more wells are planned for this camp, which should be able to host up to 20,000 refugees. In addition to refugees moved from the border, the new camp will receive 2,500 refugees who had arrived on their own at the nearby camp of Farchana which is already at full capacity.
The agency has identified a new site to establish another camp in the southern part of the refugee-hosting region. The camp, located in Djabar, 3 kms west of Goz-Beida, would be the eighth set up in eastern Chad and would receive refugees from the border towns of Mouraye, Daguessa and Tissi. Work on the site is scheduled to start at the end of this week.