UNHCR to return to N'djamena, appeals for $16.6 m

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is to open offices in the Chadian capital, N'djamena and in the south and the east of the country where there are presently at least 100,000 refugees, UNHCR reported on Friday.

The agency, which closed its Chadian offices in December 2001, said in a statement it had been authorised to re-establish a presence in the Central African country. The country presently hosts 41,000 Central African refugees in the south and a new influx of 65,000 from Darfur region of western Sudan in the east.

On Thursday, UNHCR launched a supplementary appeal for US $16.6 million to assist the Sudanese refugees, who it said had been living under desperate conditions.

The appeal would cover the needs of the refugees from October 2003 to December 2004. However between now and the end of this year, UNHCR urgently needs $6.2 million to provide shelter, health services, water and sanitation to the refugees in the remote border locations.

"Because of the remote border locations and inadequate infrastructure...trucks and light vehicles will have to be purchased and planes hired to transport aid workers and relief items to the east of the country," UNHCR said. "Refugees will also have to be relocated from remote border locations to four new sites that have been identified."

Another one million dollars is to be used for supplying water because eastern Chad had no readily available water sources like river, UNHCR said. It would therefore be necessary to drill wells.

The Sudanese refugees fled Darfur last month because of insecurity despite a 45-day ceasefire agreement that took effect on 6 September between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLA/M) rebel group, which operates in area.

The deal, which was brokered by Chad, provided for the control of all armed forces in the region, the release of prisoners of war, the relocation of SLA forces and measures to generate economic and social development in the area.