The United Nations refugee agency is relocating sixteen thousand Sudanese refugees from Am Nabak in eastern Chad further inland. The first of the Sudanese, about three thousand refugees, will be settled in Mile Camp.
Ginette Le Breton is the spokesperson for UNHCR in Chad. From Abechi, she says lack of water and insecurity are among the reasons for the move. English to Africa’s Angel Tabe also asked her how these refugees found themselves in Am Nabak in the first place, and how long they have been there?
She says, “The refugees have been there since June 2004… Those people came spontaneously and established themselves some 27 km away from the border. But… we knew they were going to move. There is no water… we have to use water trucking and it’s very costly.”
Le Breton says it is a concern for UNHCR that refugees are at Am Nabak, close to the country from where they are fleeing. “For the refugee security, it was a priority. And more recently, we’ve seen incidents of humanitarian cars being hijacked on the road leading to Am Nabak. All of these factors are forcing us to really consider bringing the refugees more inland for their own security,” she says.
Having lived in Am Nabak close to two years with established services like schools and markets, UNHCR fears the refugees may be reluctant to leave. So they are being given a clear understanding of the reasons why. “We are already putting in place an awareness campaign. We are talking with refugees leaders, with women, with vulnerable people in the camp, and at the receiving end as well,” she says.
Le Breton says a renewed security agreement with the Chadian government will guarantee the presence of police and gendarmes at the camps for about two more years.