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Chad: emergency aid for new influx of refugees from Darfur

14-02-2008 News Release 08/27

N'Djamena / Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing aid for some 10,000 refugees who fled their villages for neighbouring Chad during recent fighting near the Sudanese towns of Seleia, Abu Suruj and Sirba in West Darfur.

The refugees are now sheltering in the Birak area of Chad. To meet their most urgent needs, the ICRC is distributing, in coordination with other humanitarian agencies on the spot, 1,000 tarpaulins, 2,000 blankets and mats, 2,000 jerrycans and 1,000 kg of soap.

On their arrival in Chad the refugees, who included a number of wounded people, were immediately taken in by local residents in and around Birak. Nevertheless, these men, women and children, who were exhausted after walking for several days, are in urgent need of assistance. " Our aim is to respond as quickly as possible to their needs in terms of food, water, blankets, basic implements and medical care, " said ICRC delegate Yayhia Khalil, who was present when the refugees arrived.

The aid distribution should enable the refugees, who include many women and young children, to keep warm during the cold nights, to have access to clean water and to maintain basic standards of hygiene. The most severely wounded have been taken to local health facilities for urgent treatment.

Some of the refugees are extremely concerned about their loved ones who stayed behind in Sudan. The ICRC will therefore, in the coming days, gather the information necessary to restore contact between the new arrivals and their relatives.

The organization, which lost a staff member in the recent clashes, remains concerned about the plight of civilians caught up in the conflict in Darfur. All its other staff members who were working in the Seleia area when the clashes broke out, and with whom the ICRC lost touch for several days, have now been accounted for. The ICRC is closely monitoring the situation as regards respect for international humanitarian law and reminds all the parties to the conflict of their obligation to spare persons who are not or who are no longer taking part in the hostilities, and civilian property.

  For further information, please contact:
  Inah Kaloga, ICRC N'Djamena, tel : +235 2520 316 or +235 620 10 05
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel : +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17