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CAR Refugees Continue to Flee to Chad


The U.N. refugee agency says refugees continue to arrive in the remote village of Daha in southeastern Chad fleeing ongoing insecurity in the northern Central African Republic. The UNHCR reports it has registered nearly 7,000 refugees in two sites near Daha village since mid-January.

Northern Central African Republic is plagued with ongoing insecurity. Fighting between rebels and government troops reportedly continues. On top of that, U.N. refugee spokesman, Ron Redmond, says bandits roam the countryside adding to the general insecurity.

"So, it is a pretty lawless situation in the Central African Republic and these people, unfortunately, have been caught up in the fighting," he said. "There are kidnappings. They have lost their homes. Their villages have been destroyed. They have no place else to go, so they are now out in this very remote and difficult to reach area of Chad."

The conflict in the Central African Republic has been going on for a very long time. The UNHCR cares for some 56,000 refugees from CAR in five camps.

Redmond tells VOA it would be easier to assist the new arrivals in these camps. But, he says the refugees who have recently fled do not want to go to the established camps. They want to stay along the border, hoping they soon can go home.

"The majority of the recent arrivals are women, children and elderly people," said Redmond. "They said they walked for two days before reaching the border and they indicated that there are still more people out in the bush, still in hiding, moving when they can and that they are trying to get to safety in Chad. The new arrivals around Daha are really roughing it."

Redmond says it is very difficult to get aid to this remote region. He notes the UNHCR's main warehouse around the town of Abeche in eastern Chad is 700 kilometers away.

He says the roads, which are difficult in the best of times, will become impassable once the rainy season starts at the end of April. In preparation, he says the UNHCR and its partners are distributing aid items to the refugees, including plastic sheeting, mats, blankets, and jerry cans.

He says the World Food Program has provided a one-month supply of food to the refugees and more distributions are planned. He says Doctors Without Borders is providing clean water and the U.N. Children's Fund is building communal latrines.

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