Darfur fighting forces UN to relocate more than 40000 Sudanese refugees in

At the same time the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that for three months it had been unable to deliver food to hundreds of thousands of people within Darfur because of insecurity. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) voiced deep concern over heavy fighting on Saturday between the Sudanese Army and rebels within a few kilometres of the Ouré Cassoni refugee camp on the Chadian side of the border.“Although no one in or around the camp was harmed refugees and humanitarian workers were certainly alarmed by the gunfire and bombardment just across the border,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva.“With the deterioration of the security situation, it is now urgent that the relocation take place and we are preparing plans accordingly. We will have to put in place some emergency measures, such as moving refugees to existing camps or to temporary transit sites until a proper site is actually developed. This could take several months.” She said Chadian authorities had granted the agency permission to survey open land near the town of Biltine. “Meanwhile, UNHCR and its partners continue their normal activities in the camps with some limitations, including the necessity of travelling to the camps under armed escort,” she added. The warning was just the latest by UNHCR over the deteriorating situation threatening some 213,000 Sudanese in Chad who have fled three years of fierce fighting between the Government, allied militia and rebels. At least 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict and a further 2 million displaced within Darfur. Just last week, the agency warned that its operations in Chad were threatened by armed groups which continue to target humanitarian workers in Chad and steal their vehicles.Today Ms. Pagonis said that while most of the 12 UNHCR-run camps in eastern Chad are at least 50 kilometres from the border, Ouré Cassoni is only 5 kilometres and Am Nabak, 18 kilometres from the frontiers. The camps respectively host 26,300 and 16,500 people. WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume told the Geneva briefing that in September the agency was unable to distribute food aid to 224,000 persons; in July it could not deliver to 470,000 people and in August to 358,000. WFP is hoping for a good harvest, but the same insecurity which prevented distribution of food has also stopped farmers from being able to work in their fields and gather the harvest, she said. The agency’s target is to distribute food aid to 3 million people in Darfur every month. The Sudan operation is now its largest because it covers 6 million people throughout Africa’s largest country. read more