The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is extremely concerned about continuing attacks by Sudanese janjaweed militia in eastern Chad. The UNHCR says the number of people fleeing the raids is rising.
In the latest attack, a few days ago, the U.N. refugee agency reports armed militiamen stole 350 head of cattle in the Goz Beida region of eastern Chad.
Spokesman Ron Redmond, says in this instance no one was killed. But, he says there have been numerous cases in recent months where people have died in raids. In April, for instance, he says hundreds of janjaweed attacked a village, massacring more than 100 men and stealing hundreds of cattle.
He says the violence is forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.
"UNHCR teams have interviewed many displaced in spontaneous settlements," he said. "They say attacks are being perpetrated by janjaweed militia coming from Sudan. They also said that on several occasions, they recognized Chadians from other tribes taking part in attacks together with the Sudanese janjaweed militia. They allege that those Chadians had concluded agreements with the militia to avoid attacks on their own properties and livestock."
Redmond says the attacks have become more systematic and deadly over the past three months. He says the ongoing insecurity also poses a threat to 213,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur who are staying in 12 camps along the border with Sudan.
The UNHCR reports an estimated 50,000 Chadians have been displaced in the eastern part of the country in recent months and that number is growing. Redmond says the arrival of additional displaced people in Chadian villages and towns is straining the limited resources of local communities.
"Those camps themselves with over 200,000 refugees are already straining resources in eastern Chad," he added. "If we are going to start seeing tens of thousands of internally displaced on top of that, then we are going to be facing some major, major problems. That is why UNHCR is asking for both Chad and Sudan to do more about security or insecurity along that big border. And, also asking for more international engagement."
For the past few months, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has been warning of growing regional instability if nothing is done to prevent cross border attacks from escalating.