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Chad: UN Distributes Aid To Refugees After Blaze

Chad: UN distributes aid to refugees left homeless after camp blaze

15 April 2008 - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has provided temporary housing and relief supplies to more than 2,000 Darfurians who were left homeless after a fire swept through part of the Goz Amer refugee camp in eastern Chad last week.

The agency has distributed mats, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans to some 2,130 refugees from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, who are currently being housed in three schools at the camp until family tents arrive in the coming days.

In addition, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) will be handing out an extra one-month food ration to the affected families.

UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond said the cause of last Friday's blaze is believed to be an untended cooking fire which spread rapidly due to high winds.

As of Monday, 24 refugees had been admitted to the camp's health centre with various burn injuries - none of them life-threatening. In addition, at least 15 severely traumatized refugees are receiving counselling from a UNHCR partner organisation in the camp.

"Staff report that some of those made homeless are suffering from psychological trauma because the blaze rekindled memories of the Janjaweed attacks on their villages, including house torching, that forced them to flee from Darfur to Chad in 2003 and 2004," Mr. Redmond said.

Goz Amer, which lies about 70 kilometres from the border with Darfur, is host to about 20,500 people and it is the southernmost of 12 UNHCR-run camps in the region that are home to more than 240,000 Darfurians in total.

UNHCR plans to rebuild the destroyed section of the camp using more solid material than the straw and mud that most shelters are made from.


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