The rainy season has begun in eastern Chad, but relocation efforts continue for refugees who have fled their villages in Sudan?s Darfur region. Refugees continue to cross the border, saying they wanted to escaped attacks by the government-backed janjaweed militias. The Arab militias are fighting black African rebel groups. Often the elderly are left behind because they are unable to travel.
Peter Kessler is a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the status of relief operations in eastern Chad. He says more than 100,000 refugees have been relocated from the border to eight camps, but additional camps will be needed since hundreds more continue to cross the border each week.
Due to the continued influx, he says the UNHCR is now asking for nearly $56 million to prepare new camps, drill wells, stockpile supplies, build infrastructure and airlift supplies. As for the weather, Mr. Kessler says, ?The rains are slowly sweeping northward. It?s having an impact, especially in the south. But most of the refugees are now crossing in northern parts of the border area. And so far, that region seems mostly spared, but in a matter of weeks the rains will sweep into that region, bringing virtually all movement virtually to a halt, both in Darfur and neighboring Chad.?
The UNHCR hopes to send a team into the Darfur region in the coming days and may establish an office in western Sudan shortly.
Click above links to listen to interview.