20,000 Central African Refugees in Dire Straits

Sheltered in Chad, They Need Food and Water

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MOUNDOU, Chad, JUNE 11, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Fides).- Central African refugees sheltered in Chad are facing a serious crisis, says Radio Duji Lokar of Moundou.



At least 22,000 people are camped on the border area between Chad and the Central African Republic, having arrived there between December and April. Many of them are abandoned children, the broadcaster told the Fides news service.

The people fled from the fighting in the Central African Republic between President François Bozizé's army and troops loyal to former President Ange-Félix Patassé.

There are groups of Central African Republic refugees in several places. There are about 10,000 at Gore. Some settled in the two local camps, others were taken in by families.

Another 12,000 are spread around Yanmodo, Matiti and Koumba, sheltered under large trees or in makeshift dwellings. Their living conditions are precarious, and there is no clean water. Dirty water has to be collected several kilometers away.

Food is scarce; only two food rations have arrived. The first was 3 kilograms of sorgo per family; the second, which arrived in April, was a 100-kilogram bag of flour for every 30 people. Since then, the refugees have been slowly starving. Officials fear a cholera outbreak is looming.

Not until the end of June will work be completed on a camp for 20,000 refugees, which will be located 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Gore. The camp will have a dispensary and a large food storehouse. However, food aid must come immediately, since the roads will be impassable for delivery trucks once the rainy season begins.