UN refugee agency begins registering Sudanese who have fled to Chad

Staff teams from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and officials from Chad’s refugee support agency have been registering new arrivals in three locations inside Chad since the weekend. So far more than 2,000 people have been registered.A UNHCR spokesman, Ron Redmond, said today that completing the registrations has been difficult because the refugees are so widely dispersed along the largely remote and inaccessible Chad-Sudan border.Earlier this week UNHCR received reports that as many as 18,000 Sudanese have crossed over into Chad to escape fighting in Darfur between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). The influx adds to the 95,000 refugees who had escaped to Chad between March and December last year.Some refugees told UNHCR that the village of Habila in Sudan was now deserted after its 1,750 inhabitants fled following an attack 10 days ago. They said an Antonov plane and helicopters flew over Habila and bombed its only well before armed men arrived on horses and camels and stole cattle and chased people away.Mr. Redmond said the refugees on the border are living in extremely harsh conditions, with few basic necessities and only bushes to protect them from wind and sand. Aid agencies are preparing to distribute humanitarian assistance to the refugees.The UNHCR is considering transferring some of the new refugees to a transit centre further inside Chad as early as next week. Already over 800 people have been taken to the newly constructed refugee camp at Farchana, where they are safe from cross-border raids by Sudanese militias. read more