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UNHCR: Thousands Flee Sudan to Chad to Escape Fighting

United Nations officials in Chad say thousands of Sudanese refugees continue to flee bombing by Sudanese government forces in the strife-torn Darfur region, where rebels have been fighting the government for the past 10 months. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, plans to arrive in Chad on Sunday to assess the situation.

U.N. refugee officials estimate there are 110,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad and their numbers continue to grow.

The director of the UNHCR's office in N'Djamena says the latest influx includes more than 10,000 Sudanese who walked through a heavily mined region of northeast Chad two weeks ago to reach the town of Bahai.

The official, Alphonse Malanda, said the refugees say they had to flee for their lives. "What they are saying is that they fled because of the bombing by the Sudanese army, and they have had to abandon their belongings," he said. "They came into Chad without anything. So, they need an urgent humanitarian response."

The president of Sudan, Oman Hassan al-Bashir, declared earlier this month that the government had full control of the rebellious Darfur region of western Sudan.

The two main rebel factions, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army, have rejected the president's proposal for peace talks.

The rebels took up arms last year, claiming the Arab-led government in Khartoum was ignoring the needs of Darfur's predominately black African population.

International relief agencies say the rebels still control the main roads and are carrying out guerrilla-style attacks.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, is scheduled to arrive in Chad on Sunday for a three-day visit, to appeal for international support to assist the Sudanese refugees. The United Nations says it needs $19 million this year to meet the needs of the Darfur refugees.