Sudan: horror, aerial bombings, militia attacks
No Prospect For Darfur Sudanese To Return Soon -- UN Refugee Chief
After spending a day in the field listening to horror stories of aerial bombings and militia attacks, the United Nations refugee chief has acknowledged that the estimated 110,000 Sudanese who have fled their country and poured into eastern Chad may not be able to go home anytime soon.
"I just sat there and listened to their horrible stories," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers said after visiting some of the refugees in eastern Chad's Touloum transit centre. He called for intensified efforts to bring peace to the Darfur region of western Sudan where the conflict between rebel movements, militias and the Government has also displaced an estimated 1 million people internally.
Noting that the refugees seemed very traumatized, Mr. Lubbers added: "There's no immediate prospect for them to go back now. UNHCR's role is to accommodate them in Chad until it is safe for them to go back to Darfur." It could be "months and months" before they could even begin to think of returning home, he said.
Touloum houses more than 4,800 refugees, many of whom live in huts made of branches and UNHCR plastic sheeting. Some told Mr. Lubbers they fled after their villages were bombed by a plane, then attacked by militia. They walked for days to Tine on the border and built makeshift shelters before being moved by UNHCR to the safer site of Touloum.
Today the High Commissioner is scheduled
to meet the UN Special Envoy to Sudan, Tom Eric Vraalsen, in
N'Djamena, the Chadian capital.