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UNHCR Transferring 10K Central. Africans To S Chad

UN refugee agency transferring nearly 10,000 Central Africans to southern Chad

27 May 2008 - In a bid to outpace the rainy season which kicks off in mid-June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has started transferring nearly 10,000 newly-arrived refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) to a new camp in southern Chad.

The agency began moving the refugees - mostly farmers - last Friday from a transit centre some 25 kilometres from the Chad-CAR border to Moula, which is 150 kilometres inland.

Some 1,662 Central Africans have already been moved in two convoys and UNHCR hopes to have 15-truck convoys running every two days until the roads become impassable.

Arriving in southern Chad between January and March this year, this latest wave of refugees fled violence in northern CAR, according to UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis.

"Many reported their villages had been burned and looted, and some people killed," she noted, adding that smaller groups of Central Africans continue to stream across the border to Chad.

UNHCR had originally planned to send the new refugees to one of its three camps near Goré, but previously, another group of refugees had refused to move there, citing inter-ethnic tensions. The UN refugee agency then constructed the new camp at Moula.

At the better-equipped Moula camp, each family will be given a 2.5 hectare plot of land. Later this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will distribute seeds and tools, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) will provide monthly food rations.

Currently, the Central Africans reside in family tents but will shortly commence building their own homes.

UNHCR operates five camps in southern Chad for more than 56,000 northern CAR refugees, as well as one dozen centres in eastern Chad for 250,000 refugees from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

ENDS

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