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Chad: insecurity bars UN access to refugee influx

Chad: insecurity bars UN access to refugee influx from Central African Republic

Insecurity due to rebel activity is preventing the United Nations refugee agency and its partners from reaching an estimated 2,600 people from the Central African Republic (CAR) who have reportedly fled from fighting in their own country to a remote border area in Chad.

According to Chadian authorities, 462 CAR families have gathered in the village of Bedakoussang, about 10 kilometres from the border and 35 kilometres from Goré, the main town in southern Chad, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today.

“UNHCR and its partners have been unable to verify their presence, however, because of rebel military activity around the nearby village of Bekan, 10 kilometres from Bedakoussang,” she said. “Chadian authorities reported that an unidentified rebel group attacked Bekan on Sunday.”

If confirmed, the new arrivals would bring to more than 7,000 the number of CAR refugees who have arrived in southern Chad since the beginning of the year. Chad is already hosting more than 46,000 CAR refugees in three sites in the south.

Since the middle of last year, thousands of people have fled growing insecurity in northern CAR caused by a mixture of armed insurgency against the government, military reprisals against northern villages where the insurgents are thought to be hiding, and widespread banditry.

Chadian authorities who have had access to the new refugees report that they began arriving in Bedakoussang at the end of January following fighting in their villages in the Paoua area. Others have been arriving periodically throughout February because of ongoing fighting in CAR.

In addition, Chad is hosting more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from the violence-torn Darfur area in 12 refugee camps in the east.

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