In southeastern Chad, UNHCR staff are reporting the arrival of some 50,000 refugees from southwestern Darfur during the last week. Refugees are fleeing fresh tribal clashes in the Sudanese town of Um Dukhun. During the last two months, clashes have now displaced over 74,000 people into Chad including Sudanese and Chadians - who lived as refugees in the conflict zone.
This is the largest influx of refugees from Sudan into Chad since 2005. Most of the latest arrivals are women and children. The first waves of civilians who fled Darfur arrived in March earlier this year to seek safety in the neighbouring town of Tissi in Chad. Among some 24,000 people, recordings revealed 8,000 of Sudanese and 16,000 Chadians.
UNHCR reports that most of the people fleeing Sudan have arrived on foot, donkeys or on carts to save their lives. People are exhausted, traumatized and visibly disturbed by the recent violent events. According to some of the new arrivals, refugees witnessed their houses being destroyed and villages completely burnt down. Many reported their relatives being killed in the latest round of violence.
In Tissi, the new arrivals live in very dire conditions. They have no water, no food and are sleeping under trees. They are in great risk of waterborne diseases as they drink water from a nearby river. More refugees continue to arrive daily. Among them are wounded by bullets that are abandoned to their fate and are sleeping on the ground. There is no health center, or operational clinic with surgical materials in this area.
The location is some 231 kilometres away from UNHCR’s nearest field office in Koukou Angaranana - an eight hour drive with bad road conditions. UNHCR has deployed teams on the Chad-Sudan border to register and assist the arriving refugees. Available stocks of relief items including blankets, food and medicines are being rushed to the site.
Since last Wednesday UNHCR has been registering the new arrivals around the clock before relocating them to the Goz Amir Camp, in Dar Sila region of Chad. The camp is already hosting some 26,000 Sudanese refugees and can only accommodate and additional 5000 people. UNHCR is working with the Chadian authorities and partners to develop a new refugee camp to accommodate the latest arrivals.
People still have a immediate need of shelter, clean drinking water, food and medicine. A local Chadian NGO - ADESK – is helping to evacuate seven seriously wounded persons to Goz Baeida, the main town in southeastern Chad, where they can receive adequate medical treatment. In order to support the new arrivals, local authorities have provided 100 tons of food that have already been transported by UNHCR to Tissi.
UNHCR is concerned that the number of refugees will increase as clashes continue across the border. UNHCR staff report about thick heavy smoke in the Darfur skies fearing this may be the result of more houses being set on fire in the nearby Darfur villages. Since 2003, there are over 300,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad.
There are reports that the same conflict has displaced 4,000 Sudanese refugees to Amnafok, North of Birao in the Central African Republic at the Sudanese border.Photo: UNHCR staff meet with refugees from Darfur in the Chadian town of Tissi.
FN:s flyktingorgan UNHCR verkar för skydd och bistånd till miljoner flyktingar världen över, på ett opartiskt sätt och oberoende av etnisk bakgrund, religion, politisk åskådning och kön.