348508_44124480466@N01.jpg Sudanese baby Africa Oil Watch: UN refugee agency plans another camp - Officials say (privately) this should have been done much sooner

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

UN refugee agency plans another camp - Officials say (privately) this should have been done much sooner

Excerpts from swiss.org report dated July 28, 2004:

Suffer away from camps

While most of the 180,000 black Africans who have fled to Chad to escape Arab Janjaweed militias are now in camps, thousands more are living with local communities near the border, cut off from most international aid.

"Some have been here for five months," said Arbab Gamar Ibrahim, from the Sudanese town of Mestre, a refugee himself who acts as a representative for some 1,500 others scattered across villages about 30 km (20 miles) south of the town of Adre. "They are living with their brothers."

These refugees do not have access to the food handouts or daily medical clinics in the camps and have to rely instead on the generosity of Chadian villagers and occasional visits by aid workers to these isolated settlements.
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Forces refugees to move

Sophie Villemaire, a Canadian nurse from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, says the refugees living away from the camps used to be easier to find, as they set up a makeshift community close to a pickup point for transfers to the camps. But the arrival of the rainy season about a month ago turned the land from semi-desert into fertile green terrain and local people needed the area the refugees were camping on for farming. The refugees have dispersed to live with host families in villages or try to make their own way to camps some 50 km away.

"You have to go to every village (now)," said Villemaire, who comes from Montreal and has spent the past five months in eastern Chad. "Before, we knew where they were."
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Still waiting to be given tents and other aid

Five thousand extra refugees who were near the border have turned up at one of the main camps, Bredjing, in recent weeks, adding to problems at the overcrowded site. They have yet to be properly registered so they can receive tents and other aid.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says it plans to build at least one more camp in the Adre area -- which is hosting some 50,000 refugees in camps and communities -- to take in the overspill from Bredjing and refugees still at the border.

Some officials acknowledge privately this should have been done much sooner.

At the Adre hospital, the arrival of refugees in the area has increased admissions by 50 percent, putting extra strain on a very basic health system. Seven malnourished children -- two local, five refugees -- lie in beds draped with mosquito nets in the 40-bed hospital.


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