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Humanitarian situation still precarious for refugees in Chad: ICRC

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June 13, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Thousands of people displaced from Darfur to the remote Chad border town of Tissi are facing a worsening humanitarian situation due to a lack of adequate medical facilities, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) says.

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The ICRC distributed essential household items to vulnerable families in the eastern Chadian town of Tissi who have fled violence in the west of Darfur (Photo: ICRC/A. Moubarak)

In its latest operational update released on Wenesday, the ICRC said it had transferred 19 seriously injured people by air to Abeche regional hospital, where its surgical team is currently attending to them.

The ICRC says it has now transferred those in most serious need of medical care out of the area.

“We continue to monitor the situation so that we can take action if there is a need to do so”, said Helene Plennevaux, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Abeche.

In cooperation with Red Cross of Chad volunteers, the ICRC distributed aid to some 10,000 of the neediest returnees in the country. Every family in the Tissi area was given clothing, blankets, sleeping mats, jerrycans, mosquito nets, soap, kitchen utensils and tarpaulins.

Plennevaux said displaced people continued to face difficult conditions on the ground and there are concerns the upcoming rainy season will cut off access to the area.

“We are trying to meet the most urgent needs by providing aid before the onset of the rainy season, which will render the roads impassable and therefore make access to the area very difficult”, she said.

“Most of these people fled without taking anything with them, so they need the items we are providing to protect themselves from bad weather. The families, consisting mainly of women and children and sometimes elderly or disabled dependents, need shelter and emergency supplies”, she added.

Several tens of thousands of people flooded into Tissi after fierce fighting erupted in early March between the Salamat and Misseriya tribes in and around the Um Dukhun area following an attempted armed robbery.

Some 23,000 Sudanese refugees, including dozens of wounded, fled the violence in Darfur to the eastern Chadian town, with a further 16,000 Chadians who were living in the conflict zone also crossing the border.

Displaced civilians fleeing instability across Darfur continue to arrive, with the influx of people sparking tensions in the area among some local communities, the ICRC said.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva in April, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Melissa Fleming said many of the new arrivals were “exhausted, traumatised and visibly disturbed.”

Many of the newly-arrived refugees were forced to take shelter from the elements under trees and conditions in the area remain harsh and subject to climatic extremes.
The UNHCR has since relocated thousands of displaced people, mainly women and children, from Tissi to camps further inside Chad as a safety precaution.

The ICRC says it is continuing its dialogue with civilian and military authorities on humanitarian principles and on the need to protect and respect civilians and detainees.

Meetings and information sessions are currently being held for this purpose with units of the defence and security forces, as well as traditional and other civilian authorities in Abeche and the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.

(ST)

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