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Darfur refugees in Chad set to move away from unstable border with Sudan - UN

22 September 2009 – The United Nations refugee agency today welcomed the decision to move a makeshift camp in eastern Chad, which shelters 28,000 people driven from their homes in neighbouring Darfur, further away from the volatile border area with Sudan.

The Oure Cassoni refugee camp, currently located just seven kilometres from the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, has increasingly become a recruiting ground by rebel Sudanese militia of child soldiers, Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

Mr. Mahecic added that in addition to an absence of protection and security guarantees, residents in the Oure Cassoni camp suffer from severe water and firewood shortages.

UNHCR together with Chadian Government officials is considering the suitability of a new site 45 kilometres north of the town of Bahai and away from the border with Sudan, as well as an option to move the refugees into several smaller camps.

“This week we will begin informing the residents of Oure Cassoni of plans to move the camp, which has been in operation for five years,” said Mr. Mahecic.

“Once a suitable site has been identified, planning the logistical aspects of the move will get underway,” he added. “This will include designing the new camp, drilling boreholes and setting up tents to accommodate the refugees who will then construct their homes on their allocated spaces.”

Other UN agencies, such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will collaborate in organizing the move, and the UN peacekeeping mission in Chad – known as MINURCAT – is expected to provide security and may supply logistical support.

“Early estimates indicate that UNHCR will need to raise an additional $9 million to carry out the relocation operation,” said Mr. Mahecic.

UNHCR assists 250,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps in eastern Chad, and cares for around 70,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) in southern Chad.

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