The U.N. refugee agency says the worsening security situation in eastern Chad is limiting access to refugee camps and leaving thousands of refugees and displaced people feeling extremely vulnerable. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.
The UNHCR says the fighting has taken place north and east of the town of Abeche, which is near its main base of operations for 12 refugee camps. The area is generally uninhabited.
But, UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic says refugees in several of the camps are starting to suffer the consequences of declining security.
"Because of the deterioration of the security situation, they feel less comfortable moving around the sites," said Mahecic. "As you know, often they collect wood for the cooking and heating and also our access has been somewhat limited. As I said, we had limited access to these areas in the past week due to the insecurity in that part of Chad. But, still all the essential services in the camps are running."
Mahecic says more than 130 humanitarian aid workers from various organizations were stuck in the town of Hadjer Hadid south-west of Farchana by heavy fighting since November 24. He says they were finally relocated Monday to Abeche.
He says the volatile situation also has prompted an increase in banditry. He says the U.N. refugee agency is continuing to closely monitor the situation.
The UNHCR and its partners are caring for some 240,000 refugees who fled to Chad from western Sudan's conflict-ridden province of Darfur. In addition, the agency also is assisting 180,000 internally displaced people who are sheltering in nearby camps.