The UN refugee agency says it is sending an emergency relief convoy from the Chadian town of Abeche to a remote area of southeastern Chad. It says up to 10,500 refugees who fled fighting in the Central African Republic have sought safety in this inhospitable part of Chad.
Refugees are continuing to flee into Chad to escape fighting between government forces and rebels in the northern part of the Central African Republic. An intensification of fighting in mid-January prompted the latest influx of some 4,500 refugees around the Chadian border village of Daha.
UN refugee spokesman Ron Redmond says the situation has continued to deteriorate this week, causing thousands more to flee. Local Chadian authorities, he says, estimate between 4,000 and 5,000 new refugees arrived in Daha mid-week.
This brings the total number of refugees from the CAR in this remote area to up to 10,000
"Most of the new arrivals are women and children. They fled ongoing fighting in the northeastern CAR between rebel groups and the military near the town of Ngarba," Redmond said. "The refugees are in dire need of assistance. Many are sheltered under trees in the open. Others have constructed flimsy shelter with very little protection from the weather. And, the local community does not have much to offer either."
Redmond says local officials report food is scarce and people are in need of medical assistance. He says the health center has run out of medication due to the sudden arrival of the refugees and medical supplies are urgently needed, especially to treat malaria.
He says refugees and local people have little access to clean water.
"This operation also includes the deployment of an emergency team to Daha. And, we are looking at the possibility of opening an office there. But, the remoteness makes that rather difficult because in the rainy season, we will not be able to move in and out of there except by air," he said.
Redmond says a convoy of 11 trucks and five light vehicles is scheduled to leave Abeche Friday to travel south to Daha. He says the grueling 720-kilometer journey on very poor roads will take three days. He says a truck with 14,000 liters of fuel will accompany the convoy.
He says the trucks are bringing food, medical supplies, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, blankets, mats, soap and other basic supplies. He says the World Food Program is providing 15-day food rations for 10,000 people.
The UN Children's Fund is dispatching 20 tons of essential supplies, including vaccines against measles. He says the World Health Organization is sending various medicines.