Chad Government asks IMF to help it look after Sudanese refugees

Chad appealed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday for a special loan to help it look after an influx of nearly 200,000 refugees from Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Finance Minister Ahmat Awad Sakhine told reporters that he had formally put the request to IMF director general Rodrigo Rato at a meeting between the IMF supremo and Central African finance ministers in the Gabonese capital Libreville earlier in the day.

Sakhine said he had appealed to Rato “for the IMF to help the 200,000 refugees from Darfur in Chad”.

"Chad is a poor country which has difficulties in helping the refugees on its soil. We do not have enough logistic capacity to distribute food to the refugees, even allowing for the fact that humanitarian assistance to them is still insufficient," he added.

The minister said an IMF mission would arrive in the Chadian capital N'djamena on August 13 to begin discussions on a fresh loan agreement with the country.

"We haven't got a programme in place with the IMF at the moment because the last one was not respected," Sakhine said. "We have taken advantage of this meeting to ask the IMF to come back to Chad to negotiate a new three-year agreement."

A new loan agreement with the IMF would help Chad to negotiate debt relief with its foreign creditors under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and boost aid flows from western donors.

A UN official in the Senegalese capital Dakar said on Wednesday that the international community had contributed US$60 million so far this year to help Chad deal with the refugees pouring in from Darfur, 60 percent of the total sum requested by the United Nations.

Rato, who was appointed head of the IMF in June, met Sakhine during two-day meetings with leaders of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC). This groups Gabon, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea. All six countries share the CFA franc as their common currency.