With the rainy season due to arrive at the end of the month, the UN refugee agency is trying to speed to relocation of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad. More than 100-thousand Sudanese have crossed the border in recent months to escape fighting in Sudan?s Darfur region. The rainy season could make roads impassable and bring a halt to some relief operations. A shortage of vehicles is not helping the situation.
Peter Kessler is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he gave English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua an update on relocation efforts in Chad. He says, ?UNHCR has so far transported some 45,000 Sudanese into camps in eastern Chad. We?ve been pulling these people off the border and getting them on trucks and deeper into the country away the marauding rebels. In addition, another 10,000 Sudanese have themselves walked or taken their donkeys or even perhaps ridden local taxis. And also, they?re now camped outside our camps waiting to be registered. So we have close to some 55,000 people who have gotten off the border.?
The UNHCR is operating about a half dozen camps and is looking to open several more. The big issue remains water. The land is parched and it?s vital for new water supplies to be found. Currently, water is being brought in by truck to many of the refugees.
The agency says it?s looking for a new campsite in the Bahai region. A potential site has been located by a lake in Kariari.
Mr. Kessler says since a temporary ceasefire was signed in Darfur on April 8th, there?s been an increase in Sudanese crossing over into the northern part of eastern Chad.
The UNHCR says it?s concerned about reports of cross border incursions by the ?janjaweed? militias, who have been blamed for attacks on villages in Darfur.
Click above links to download or listen to interview with UNHCR.