November 24th, 2006 08:42 EST
Chadians displaced by Darfur border killings are too afraid to return home: UN agency
At least 15,000 Chadians who fled their homes over the past three weeks because of deadly violence close to the border with Darfur are still too afraid to return to their villages because armed groups remain in the area, where some who went back were shot to death, the United Nations refugee agency warned today.
Insecurity around the southeastern town of Goz Beida, where some 7,000 of these displaced people have gathered, also forced today’s distribution of relief supplies to be put on hold, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said, adding the agency plans to move this group to a temporary site south of the town.
“No new attacks have been reported this week in volatile southeastern Chad near the border with Sudan's Darfur region, but thousands of displaced people remain too frightened to return to their villages because armed groups are still moving in the region,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.
“UNHCR has been working with Chadian gendarmes to escort small numbers of displaced who want to go back to their villages to recover belongings from some of the 23 villages that have been destroyed during recent attacks south and east of Goz Beida town. Dozens of other villages have been abandoned in anticipation of attacks.”
UNHCR now estimates that over 90,000 people are displaced in Eastern Chad, including at least 15,000 since the beginning of November in the southeast of the country near the Darfur border.
The recent wave of attacks is also affecting Sudanese refugees from Darfur, who are now feeling increasingly insecure after fleeing their own country in 2003-04. In all, there are 218,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad. Chad is also hosting 46,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) in the south.
On Wednesday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, who last week visited Darfur, warned the Security Council of the increasing spill-over of violence to Chad, while Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, also briefed the Council on a fact-finding mission to Chad and the CAR.