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May 7, 10

NEWS / UN agency moves Central African refugees into Chad

7 May 2010 – After fleeing Government-army clashes and walking some 60 kilometres to the border with Chad, 1,100 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) are being moved into a United Nations camp.

These refugees escaped the Sido area in northern CAR and crossed into a remote southern part of Chad two weeks ago, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and are being relocated to the Moula camp, some 180 kilometres away.

The first group of 204 refugees reached Moula on Wednesday, with the rest scheduled to arrive by early next week.

Due to poor road conditions, it takes UNHCR convoys an entire day to make the journey to Moula, already sheltering more than 4,000 Central Africans.

Most of the newly-arrived refugees are women, children, and young men, agency spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

“They reported to our staff that the fighters were looting, stealing animals and abusing civilians,” he said. “Some among the group are traumatized and say that they are not ready to return to CAR.”

The army offensive in Sido began in mid-April, and although UNHCR does not have figures for the total number of displaced, Mr. Mahecic said that the agency has received reports of 2,500 civilians being forced to flee their homes.

Just under half of them have reached a site for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the town of Kabo, 400 kilometres north of the CAR capital, Bangui, where they lack water, food and shelter.

Others who have escaped fighting are hiding in the bush, and UNHCR believes more displaced people could try to cross into Chad.

Over the past five years, insecurity in northern CAR has displaced 200,000 people within the country, and sent an additional 200,000 fleeing into neighbouring countries.




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