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UNHCR Relocates Over 30,000 Sudanese Refugees In Eastern Chad - 2004-04-20

In western Sudan, fighting between government forces and rebels continues, leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced. In recent months, more than 100,000 have crossed the border into eastern Chad. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, has been relocating them to newly set-up camps farther from the border.

Delphine Marie is a spokeswoman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the relocation operations. She says, ?The operation is going very well. We have already been able to move about 30,000 away from the border. Of course, now it?s a race against time because the rains are scheduled to begin in late May or early June. So we have one month ahead of us to continue the relocation of Sudanese refugees away from the very dangerous border. We?re hoping to be able to move another 30,000 during that one month.?

There are now five UNHCR camps operating in eastern Chad: Farchana, Kounoungo, Touloum, Iridimi and Goz Amer. Each camp holds between 5,000 and 7,000 refugees.

What will the impact be when the rains arrive? Ms. Marie says, ?I think it will be a complete standstill because the conditions will be appalling. They are already very difficult.? Small numbers of people continue to cross the border into Chad from Darfur, but reports say government militias may be blocking the border crossings.

Click above links to download or listen to interview with Delphine Marie.