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Some Chadians Actually Seek Safety in Darfur

Increased violence along the border between Chad and Sudan is actually causing people to flee Chad for safety in Darfur. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, says most of the insecurity is along Chad’s border with West Darfur State, where thousands of people have gathered around the villages of Galu and Azaza.

Helene Caux is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Geneva, she spoke with English to Africa Joe De Capua about the movements along the border.

She says, “There are now movements from Chad to Darfur. Up till recently, we had many movements from Darfur to Chad following the beginning of the confrontation between rebel movements and the Sudanese government in 2003. We already have 200,000 refugees who have crossed from Darfur to Chad and we have about 1.8 million displaced persons within Darfur. This time we identify between 8,000 and 10,000 people who have gathered in a place above El Geneina, which is the main city in West Darfur. And among these people, a great number are believed to be Chadians.”

She adds, “These people told our teams on the ground, told UNHCR, that they crossed over to Darfur following a major attack on the Chadian city of Adre last December. This attack took place between rebel movements and Chadian governmental forces. And following this attack some villages north of Adre were attacked as well by different armed groups. So people crossed for fear of being killed or being beaten up. And other people have crossed in anticipation of possible attacks.”

Caux says the fact that Chadians are seeking refuge in Darfur is “very worrisome.” The UNHCR has been warning of insecurity along the Chad/Sudan border for the past month.