The government of Chad will not forcibly return hundreds of thousands of refugees to Sudan’s Darfur region.
There had been reports that Chad might expel the refugees following last week’s rebel attacks on the capital. But Antonio Guterres, head of the UN refugee agency, says he spoke with President Idriss Deby last night. He says President Deby reaffirmed his commitment to the refugees and to international principles. But he also expressed concern about the difficulty of providing security to both refugees and humanitarian organizations.
Matthew Conway is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From the town of Abeche in eastern Chad he spoke to English to Africa Joe De Capua about the erroneous reports about the refugees.
“As we suspected, I think the media generated a lot of hype around this. And really I think it all boils down to a simple misunderstanding. The president reassured us that he never had any intention of forcibly expulsing refugees from Chad. In fact, now, through a telephone call to the high commissioner last night given his full assurances that in fact Chad would continue to provide sanctuary for the 200,000 plus refuges from the Darfur region of western Sudan,” he says.”
The UNHCR says, “It strong appeals to the international community and its various organizations to do everything possible to urgently establish peace and security in Darfur, which is essential for the stability of the entire region.”