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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

CHAD: No response yet to food appeal for Sudanese refugees

ABIDJAN, 7 January 2004 (IRIN) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday that there had been no firm response so far to its appeal for US $13 million to feed nearly 100,000 Sudanese refugees who have flooded over the border into eastern Chad.

Philippe Guyon Le-Bouffy, the WFP representative in Chad told IRIN by telephone that WFP launched an appeal in December for 11,000 tonnes of food to supply 60,000 people throughout 2004.

“Bilateral donors have expressed interest, but we have not received any guarantees yet”, he told IRIN by telephone from the town of Abeche in eastern Chad, 150 km from the Sudanese border.

However, Guyon Le-Bouffy said WFP expected to receive positive feedback from at least one western donor in the coming days.

He said WFP had so far spent US $200,000 on distributing 400 tonnes of sorghum, beans, oil and salt to the refugees fleeing into Chad from a remote and largely forgotten civil war in Sudan's western province of Darfur.

WFP had drawn this food from stocks kept for use Chad at warehouses in the capital N'Djamena, he added.

Guyon Le-Bouffy said that WFP, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began to distribute a further 500 tons of food to 13,500 people refugees near the frontier on Wednesday.

The UNHCR estimates that 95,000 Sudanese refugees have flooded into the harsh semi-desert of eastern Chad since the Darfur conflict began to escalate in April last year.

About 30,000 arrived in December alone and recent reports of heavy battles on the other side of the border a fresh wave of arrivals is widely expected.

Guyon Le-Bouffy said the WFP wanted to set up “Food-for-Work” programmes for the refugees and a special nutritional feeding programme for malnourished children and women.

In the event of a peace settlement in Darfur, WFP would provide food packages for refugees who wanted to participate in a voluntary repatriation programme, he added.

The Sudanese refugees are currently scattered in small groups along several hundred km of arid border country, where they endure a searing sun and cutting winds by day and freezing temperatures by night.

UNHCR plans to open its first formal refugee camp for 9,000 people near the village of Farchana, 55 km from the border town of Adre, on 15 January and is hoping to open two more camps soon afterwards.

Tom Eric Vraalsen, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affaires for Sudan, was due to arrive in N'Djamena on Wednesday night to get a first hand view of the refugee crisis and press for a resumption of peace talks between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups in Darfur; the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.

Chad's President Idriss Deby mediated a first round of peace talks between the two sides in N'Djamena, but they broke down on 15 December.

The United Nations estimates that in addition to the 95,000 refugees in Chad there are a further 600,000 internally displaced people within Darfur.

Themes: (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs




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