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Refugee Crisis Worsening In Eastern Chad - 2003-12-23

The refugee crisis in eastern Chad is growing worse. Sudanese refugees continue to cross the border to escape fighting in the Darfur region. It’s estimated about 25-thousand refugees entered Chad this month alone, bringing the total of Sudanese from the Darfur region to over 90,000. The UNHCR says they are scattered along a 600-kilometer stretch of the border.

The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, is gearing up to transfer the Sudanese arrivals farther from the border. Rod Redmond is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the situation in eastern Chad.

He says an emergency team will be sent to the area early next week to assess the situation. The transfer of refugees to areas farther from the border could begin by mid-January. He says it cannot start before then because water wells must be dug and roads must be built in Farachana, a refugee site about 55 kilometers from the border.

The situation in eastern Chad is being called an “invisible” emergency because the area is so remote and difficult to reach. Fortunately, the rainy season has not yet started; otherwise, helping the refugees would be even more difficult.

The fighting in Darfur involves local militias, who have attacked towns and villages.

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