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UNHCR: '2,500 fled Darfur for Chad'

August 13 - 2020 GENEVA
Refugees from West Darfur in Mamata, Chad (UNHCR / Aristophane Ngargoune)
Refugees from West Darfur in Mamata, Chad (UNHCR / Aristophane Ngargoune)

More than 2,500 refugees from West Darfur have fled to neighbouring Chad since the end of July, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said. An estimated 20,000 people within West Darfur, the majority of whom are women and children, have also been affected by the “ethnic-related unrest”.

Attacks, blamed on armed nomads, in West Darfur’s Misterei town killed 61 people from the Masalit community and injured at least 88 on 25 July. Houses were burned to the ground in the town and the surrounding villages.

According to UNHCR, many of the newly arriving refugees had returned home to Darfur from eastern Chad earlier this year. More than 80 per cent of those arriving in the Chadian border town of Adré are women, children and elderly people who ran for their lives as clashes erupted. Many have witnessed extreme violence. A 25-year-old woman told UNHCR staff that her husband was stabbed to death in front of her eyes and she had to run for her life with her three children, making the journey to Chad riding a donkey for one full day.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in collaboration with the government of Chad and its national partners, is relocating the refugees from the border areas to the Kouchaguine-Moura refugee camp further inland. The camp was already hosting more than 6,000 Sudanese who had arrived in February 2020.

However, relocation to the camp by convoy is proving slow, due to poor road conditions and heavy rains. The first two convoys with 443 refugees arrived last week. In Kouchaguine-Moura refugee camp, refugees are provided with shelter, water, food and emergency relief items. They are joining those who have arrived earlier. The camp is also providing access to hygiene and health, including isolation units, as part of the response to Covid-19.

UNHCR calls the situation in West Darfur State “stabilized but unpredictable”. The internally displaced, many of whom are staying in El Geneina, are still hesitant to return home and are demanding better security. Federal authorities in Khartoum have reportedly deployed additional forces to control and calm the situation, while a delegation from Masslit and Arab tribal leaders arrived in El Geneina from Khartoum on August 4 and is conducting peace talks between both sides.

Chad currently hosts 476,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including some 365 000 from Sudan, according to the UNHCR figures.

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