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U.S. Pledges Help for Refugees in Chad, Central African Republic

20 March 2007

State Department official cites effects on neighbors of Darfur conflict

Washington –- The United States will continue to provide humanitarian support to help protect vulnerable civilians in Chad and the Central African Republic who have been affected by conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, a top State Department official said March 20.

A significant U.S. priority in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) is protecting refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and humanitarian workers, said James Swan, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Swan testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on African Affairs, which is examining the regional impact of the Darfur crisis.

"By now we are all aware of the tragedy unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan," Subcommittee Chairman Russ Feingold said in prepared opening remarks.  "The U.S. government and many other concerned states –- acting alone as well as through the U.N. and African Union -– have intervened with diplomatic, humanitarian, human rights and development assistance, efforts driven in large part by effective grassroots activism."

"We are seeing the brutal tactics of Darfur –- and their tragic consequences –- transferred across the porous border into eastern Chad and the Central African Republic," he said.

Swan said that spillover violence from Darfur has caused nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to cut staff by approximately 50 percent in Chad, "limiting the ability of NGOs to provide nonlifesaving support activities, such as education, in refugee camps and to IDPs."

The United Nations estimates that there are 230,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad, 20,000 Chadian refugees in Darfur and 50,000 CAR refugees in southern Chad.  There are up to 110,000 IDPs in eastern Chad.  Approximately 280,000 Central Africans are displaced, of whom 212,000 are IDPs, 20,000 are refugees in Cameroon and the remaining are refugees in southern Chad, according to Swan.

While Swan said "there is no irrefutable evidence that northeastern CAR rebels enjoy support from the Sudanese government," he told the lawmakers, "There are reports that these rebels have operated out of, and been supplied through, Sudan … fueling instability in CAR."  In addition, Chadian rebels have traversed northern CAR to attack N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, from bases in Sudan and "may do so again in the future," he said.

U.S. funding for Chad for 2006 included the following amounts for countering the humanitarian disaster, Swan said:

• $4 million for emergency supplies, relief commodities, programs to address food insecurity, water and sanitation programs, income generation activities and nutrition assessments for Chadians affected by the presence of refugees and IDPs; and

• $23.8 million in emergency food assistance, in addition to the $2.7 million in nonemergency food assistance, $610,000 for humanitarian radio programs and $45 million to support refugee and IDP camps and programs and to provide security for the refugee camps.

Humanitarian funding for CAR in that period, he said, included these amounts:

• $565,000 in emergency food assistance and $350,000 for programs to respond to the International Committee of the Red Cross’s 2006 appeal for conflict victims; and

• support for responsible forest management and good governance through the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE).  CAR receives approximately several hundred thousand dollars as part of the program.

On the security side, a partnership with Chad called the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership is working "to strengthen regional counterterrorism capabilities and enhance cooperation among the region’s security forces, but also to promote democratic governance as a means to discredit terrorist ideology," Swan said. (See related article.)

Military training programs in Chad and CAR, funded by the State Department, meant "to promote long-term institutional military reform" were funded in 2006 at $342,000 for Chad and at $105,000 for CAR, he said.

In addition, U.S. military assistance to Chad involved a recently completed land mine removal program intended to make more of Chad’s arable land available to the population, he told the subcommittee.

The full texts of prepared statements by Feingold, Swan and other witnesses are available from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Web site.

For more information on U.S. assistance programs, see Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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