News

UN Says Armed Men Block Transfer of Darfur Refugees From Chad Border

Lisa Schlein

The U.N. Refugee Agency says armed men have prevented aid workers from moving thousands of refugees from Darfur away from the Chad-Sudan border. The UNHCR calls the actions by so-called unknown armed elements, alarming. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.

Thousands of refugees from Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur province began fleeing to Chad a week ago to escape deadly attacks by government-backed Janjaweed militia.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates around 9,000 newly arrived refugees are scattered along the border between Chad and Sudan. And, there are reports that more refugees are trickling in.

U.N. refugee spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis says efforts to move the refugees away from the volatile border to safer campsites inland were blocked by the presence of armed men.

She says the identity of the men is unknown, nor did the men give any reason for their actions. But, she says it was clear to aid workers they would not be able to relocate the refugees.

"The situation is so serious that our representative in Chad is now at the border trying to find a solution to this problem which is leaving the refugees extremely exposed and vulnerable," she said. "The area is highly insecure with armed groups roaming around and they pose a real threat to the refugees and the workers. And, also, in this region at night, the temperatures drop to around freezing. So, it is extremely cold, and that also is a threat to the well-being and lives of the refugees."

Pagonis says a humanitarian mission led by the UNHCR found the group of refugees that was initially prevented from boarding the UN trucks in the Birak area on Sunday. She says 70 percent of the refugees are women and children and they were in very poor condition.

She says the aid workers arranged to return within a few days with urgently needed relief supplies.

She says the humanitarian team has continued to look for refugees from Darfur and has made various arrangements with them when found.

"The team moved on to another location to find refugees who had been there, but we had found they had moved away, scared by rumors of imminent Janjaweed attacks," she said. "The newly arrived refugees are exhausted. Women report being raped. Children have been separated from their families. Many of the arrivals around Birak had already been internally displaced in West Darfur and living in camps there."

Pagonis says the UNHCR office in West Darfur reports many internally displaced families who did not flee to Chad are reporting children missing in the area of Sirba. She says the agency will work with the International Committee of the Red Cross to try to reunite children with parents as soon as possible.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs