The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has confirmed that no refugees repatriated to Darfur from Chad as suggested by the New York Times. UNHCR Chad representative Jean Bosco spoke to Radio Dabanga.
Here is the full interview:
We are happy to interview you today at Radio Dabanga.
Firstly, we would like to know: How many Sudanese are registered as refugees in Chad? ’For the time being we have 282,743.’
How many Sudanese refugee camps are in Chad?
‘We have 12 refugee camps with Sudanese refugees.’
Is it possible for you to give us the capacity of the refugee camps?
‘There is no standard capacity. Some camps like Areka Soni are hosting 36,000, while others like Milih are hosting only 18,000.’
Did any voluntary repatriation took place ever?
‘So far no repatriation took place from the Sudanese refugee camp in Chad.’
So there are no people retained voluntary from Chad to Sudan officially under the coordination of UNHCR?
‘No, what we call spontaneous repatriation is not organised by the UNHCR. People can decide to go by themselves. In such a case, the UNHCR doesn’t provide for any assistance. We heard that some Sudanese had repatriated. We asked our colleagues from UNHCR, even implementing personnel in the Darfur region. But none had been able to provide evidence that those people were living in the refugee camps in Chad. So right now I’m not in the position to certify that any refugee had repatriated from the refugee camps in Chad.’
I ask this question because we read in the international media that there is repatriation from Sudanese refugee camps in Chad from Sudan.
‘No, this did not happen.’
In the last year, 2012, did there happen any repatriation?
‘No, last year, nobody repatriated from the refugee camps.’
What happened to the agreement between the UNHCR, the Sudanese government, the Chadian government concerning the repatriation of refugees?
‘So far, no tripartite agreement has been signed yet. There have been two tripartite technical meetings. One in Khartoum and one in Chad. The third one will most likely take place on the 9th of May 2012. I am just starting drafting the tripartite agreement. But right now even the draft of the agreement doesn’t exist yet.’
UNAMID denies claims
The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has denied that any UN official claimed that 100,000 refugees returned from Chad.
UNAMID’s public information acting director Susan Manuel emailed the following statement to Radio Dabanga.
‘UNAMID has never stated that 100,000 refugees have returned to Darfur from Chad. UNAMID uses returnee figures obtained from the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator (OCHA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
According to those UN organizations, their figures indicate that 30,000 refugees have returned from Chad to Darfur, while 109,000 internally displaced persons have returned voluntarily to their places of origin, particularly in West Darfur, since November 2010.
UNAMID has provided logistical and security support to humanitarian agencies who are assisting these returns. A careful reading of the New York Times article cited here will indicate that no UN official has claimed that 100,000 refugees returned from Chad.’
The representative added that the [government affiliated] ‘Sudan Vision today reported an additional 4,164 families have returned to the Jebel Moon area from Chad over the past two months. We are currently verifying these figures with UNHCR. If confirmed, the figures on returnees from Chad will change.’