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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Slightly better conditions for Darfur refugees in northeast

NAIROBI, 17 August 2007 (IRIN) - Malaria and diarrhoea cases among Sudanese refugees living in the Sam Ouandja region of northeastern Central African Republic (CAR) have dropped, but malnutrition and anaemia are still being registered especially among children, relief agencies said.

The refugees, numbering more than 2,600, began arriving in Sam Ouandja in May - many having walked for 10 days or more from Daffak town in South Darfur. They were welcomed by local authorities, an update prepared by the Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team in CAR said on 16 August.

The CAR minister of social affairs and officials of the National Refugee Commission visited Sam Ouandja to underline the readiness of the government to help.

Since then, various UN agencies and NGOs have supplied food, medical assistance, water, shelter, a school and other basics to the refugees, who include 1,508 children.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced revised plans for a United Nations presence in the area and in neighbouring Chad, proposing that the European Union (EU) field a military force and the UN focus on training police and civilians in areas such as human rights and the rule of law.

The proposed mission, which would be coordinated by a UN-appointed head of mission and the Secretary-General's special representative, would operate in Chad's Ennedi Est department and the Wadi Fira, Ouaddai and Salamat regions; and in the Vakaga prefecture and the northeastern part of Haute-Kotto prefecture in the CAR.

Ban, in a report to the Security Council, said the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and northeastern CAR "has shown no signs of improving" since February, with more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the fighting and an estimated 700,000 others affected in host communities.




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