17 May 2013 With tens of thousands of Darfur refugees in eastern Chad, the United Nations refugee agency today said it is “in a race against time” to deliver aid before heavy rains cut off access to the group escaping violence linked to tribal conflicts.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has prepositioned enough aid in the area to cover the needs of 3,000 families and additional supplies are underway to cover the needs of another 4,000 from a regional stockpile in Douala, Cameroon, spokesperson Dan McNorton told journalists in Geneva.
Almost 30,000 people – mainly women and children – recently fled communal violence in North and West Darfur, Sudan, for Tissi, a remote and volatile area on the border between Darfur and the Central African Republic (CAR).
An average of 300 people continue to cross the border into Tissi every day, and more are on the way “but armed groups are preventing them from crossing,” the spokesperson said quoting comments from recent refugees.
“They say that they fled because people were killed during the violence and that many houses were torched by armed men,” Mr. McNorton said, adding that they urgently need shelter, food, water and medical assistance.
Roads to Tissi are impassable during the May to November rainy season, Mr. McNorton said, and the first downpours have already started.
“Due to the rains, we are in a race against time. Road transport between Doula and Tissi takes 20 days. To speed up the delivery of aid UNHCR plans to hire a helicopter,” Mr. McNorton said.
He noted that UNHCR relocated about 1,500 refugees from Tissi to Goz Amir, a camp about 250 kilometres north, and provided them with shelter, food and household items. Additional transfers were halted due to heavy rains.
The agency plan additional relocations once the rainy season is over and once safe water sources are located on sites identified by the Government for camps.
“We are working with our partners on rehabilitating some existing water pumps while we drill boreholes,” Mr. McNorton said, as an alternative to river water which can put refugees at risk for waterborne diseases.
Darfurian refugees began arriving in Tissi in early April due to tribal conflicts between Misseriya and Salamat tribes around the Um Dhukun area of West Darfur. In addition to the Darfur refugees, the violence also forced almost 20,000 Chadians to cross into Tissi, as well as 458 refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) who had been in Darfur for years.
On Monday, armed pro-government militiamen wearing Central Reserve Forces (Abu Tira) uniforms assaulted and robbed a group of 12 women and five men who were returning to Bir Dageeg camp from Thawani market in West Darfur.
Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the militiamen encountered the group about seven kilometers from the camp, beating them severely and causing a pregnant woman to miscarry.
The militiamen seized the goods the displaced had bought at the market – grain, sugar, oil and other consumer items – and robbed them of any money they were carrying.
In a similar incident on the same day, members of another militia attacked displaced persons returning to camp Saraf Jidad from Tendelti market.
Witnesses reported that the militants attacked the group about nine kilometers west of the camp in El Geneina locality, seizing all of their goods and money.
Sources have told Radio Dabanga that the deteriorating security situation at Sirba locality has resulted in price hikes at Saraf Jidad. The price of a pound of sugar is now SDG 6 ($1.36), washing powder SDG 5 ($1.15) and a pound of oil SDG 12 ($2.70).
To make matters worse, Armenkol market, where the displaced persons usually do their shopping, has been closed for more than three weeks due to militia activity, sources added.
Some activists of Sirba locality termed the current situation “a process of impoverishment and economic blockade”.
They appealed to the commissioner of the locality and the state government to immediately intervene in deterring the militias and restoring security to the region.
“This will allow citizens and displaced persons to go about their normal daily life activities.”
Similar complaints were lodged by displaced persons in Sirba last week.
File photo by Albert González Farran/UNAMID
Related: West Darfur: Insecurity in camps causing food shortage (9 May 2013)
Article source: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/49012
Displaced people in Sirba locality of West Darfur have complained about insecurity in the camps due to repeated attacks by armed militias. The market of camp Armenkol has been closed for more than two weeks as a result of tensions and security threats. This is leading to a lack of food as it is too dangerous for people to go to the state’s capital El Geneina to shop because of the proliferation of militia.
They have raised their complaints to multiple local authorities demanding the provision of security and an end to militia activity, but with few results. “Local authorities completely disregard the complaints of the displaced,” an Armenkol resident told Radio Dabanga. The displaced are appealing to the authorities to provide security, and to control the armed local militia in West Darfur.
“The latest militia attack against us was on Wednesday. Militia assaulted and robbed displaced people who were returning to the camp from the market in Tendelti. On the same day, militia assaulted displaced people en route from Camp Saraf Jidad to Tendelti,” the resident said.
Recently, displaced persons at six camps in Sirba locality told Radio Dabanga they have been experiencing a severe water crisis as a result the breakdown of water pumps. This situation has existed for three months, but rising temperatures have caused a sharp deterioration over the past few days.
File photo by Oliver Chassot/UNAMID
Related: ‘Severe water crisis’ at six camps in West Darfur (7 May 2013)
Article source: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/48479