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Thousands of Chadians Flee N'djamena Violence

After heavy weekend fighting, Chadian rebels have withdrawn from the capital, N’djamena. But thousands of refugees, expecting another military strike, have fled across Chad’s southern border into neighboring Cameroon. Javier Medrano is the Central African bureau representative of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in Cameroon. From the town of Kousseri near the Chad border, he says that thousands more displaced Ndjamena residents are expected over the next few days in Cameroon.

"N’djamena is at the border. Only two or three kilometers from the border, so people are walking. People are arriving by themselves,” he said.

Medrano says the Chadian capital’s displaced residents have nothing and need access to food, shelter, health aids, and good sanitary conditions. He adds that a host of international relief groups are on the scene, mounting a campaign to help the unfortunate.

“This (Monday) morning, we had an interagency meeting with WFP (the UN World Food Program), the HCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), and the organization UNICEF, CARE International, and other big organizations who are presently in (Cameroon’s capital) Yaounde with some staff, in Chad, too. And we have coordinated the action with the HCR and with UNDP (UN Development Program) and the other agencies,” he said.

It is difficult to estimate the numbers of Chadians streaming across the Cameroon border, but Medrano puts the current figure at between 20 and 30-thousand, with new arrivals continuing. He estimates that totals could top 50-thousand over the next few days and could mount even higher.

“Yesterday (Sunday) night when the rebels left the capital and there was a stop to the violence, people tried to provide the moment to escape to Cameroon, and in the recent since yesterday night, we found thousands people who were crossing the border, walking and trying to escape from this violence in Chad,” Medrano noted.