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Young People In Chadian Refugee Camps Need Hope

Young People In Chadian Refugee Camps Need Hope For Better Future, Says UN Official

New York, Nov 12 2009 7:10PM The top humanitarian official in Chad called for urgent attention to be paid to providing a better life for young men and women languishing in camps for refugees and displaced persons, warning that the alternatives for them would be prostitution or violence.

“I think this is the time for us as the international community to look into this phenomenon,” Michele Falavigna told a news conference in New York.

Mr. Falavigna, who took up his post as UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad about three months ago, said that while there is an obligation to protect and care for refugees, it is also vital to offer young men and women growing up in camps the hope for a decent life.

If not then the young women and girls may join prostitution rings, while the young men will “find a Kalashnikov” and join a gang or armed group, he added.

Eastern Chad is suffering from a spill-over from wars in neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur region and the Central African Republic (CAR), as well as its own rebel conflict and crimes committed in the country by heavily armed bandits.

The region is host to some 300,000 refugees from Darfur, 120,000 from CAR, as well as around 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Chad.

Mr. Falavigna voiced hope that 2010 would see a greater increase in returnees within Chad, noting that returns to ancestral lands is now possible, following consultations held between the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other UN bodies, and local and traditional authorities.

He added that efforts would be made to provide incentives for the CAR refugees to return to their homes, including economic assistance for agriculture and livestock, micro-credit, and assistance in dealing with issues of the right to land.

A UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINURCAT, is in place to protect refugees and other civilians in Chad and CAR.

Speaking in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena today, the head of MINURCAT, Victor da Silva Angelo, highlighted the work being done by the mission in Chad, including supporting the protection of refugees, IDPs and civilians in danger, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance and working to create favourable conditions for reconstruction and development in eastern Chad.

He also commented on developments in CAR and the wider region, in his speech to the 29th ministerial meeting of the UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.

ENDS

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