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SUDAN-CHAD: Give Chadian arrivals refugee status, Sudan urged

NAIROBI, 9 August 2007 (IRIN) - Thousands of Chadians who have fled violence in their country and crossed into the western Sudanese region of Darfur should be granted refugee status, two agencies said.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Sudanese Commission of Refugees (COR) recommended giving this status to the whole group rather than to individuals, with the exception of active or former combatants.

An estimated 30,000 people have left Chad for Darfur in a steady flow since early this year, they said. Most of the new arrivals were Arab nomadic or semi-nomadic communities, although there were also some non-Arabs.

Two-thirds entered west Darfur at Foro Baranga, 200km south of El Geneina, the State capital. "The fact is that nomads in Chad as well as nomads in Darfur who belong to Arab or semi-Arab [communities] also get caught in the conflict and they suffer as well," said Chrysantus Ache, UNHCR representative in Sudan.

"Therefore, they also have a basic right to UNHCR's protection."

Families interviewed by the joint UNHCR and COR teams said they left Chad after armed men wearing military uniforms entered their homes, searching for weapons and accusing villagers of supporting and participating in militia activities.

The searches often turned violent, with reports of looting, beatings, arrests, murders and in some cases rape. "Most of the interviewees clearly indicated that they did not want to return to Chad because of the security situation," said UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis.

The Chadians, the two agencies said, satisfied the eligibility criteria under relevant articles of the 1969 OAU Convention and the 1974 Regulation of Asylum Act of Sudan.



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