Insecurity in northern Central African Republic has caused thousands of refugees to cross the border into southern Chad.
At the same time, the UN refugee agency is unable to confirm reports that several thousand more have crossed the border and are currently unreachable in a remote area.
The insecurity is blamed on various armed groups operating in the region. Helene Caux is a spokesperson for the UNHCR.
From Geneva, she spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the flow of CAR refugees into Chad. She says, “In the past two and a half months, we had about 5,000 people from CAR, Central African Republic, who have crossed over to Chad. They told UNHCR teams once they had arrived in south Chad that they had to leave their villages because there were several attacks, many attacks, from different rebel groups, from governmental forces and also from different bandits. So they basically had no other choice in leaving their villages. Other refugees said to UNHCR that they left in anticipation of possible attacks.”
The UNHCR is trying to confirm reports of others who have crossed. Caux says, “We recently had information from the Chadian authorities that another 2,600 people had crossed in the past month and stopped at a village just at the border. We were about to send a UNHCR team to verify this number and also to interview the people. Unfortunately, there was an attack from a rebel group near this village and it was impossible for us to reach this place.”
The UNHCR is awaiting word from local authorities that it’s safe to travel. The volatile area is about 35 kilometers south of the Chadian city of Gore’, near the border villages of Bekan and Bedakoussang.