UN agency set to open up new safety corridor for Sudanese refugees

The refugees will move from two villages on the border, near Birak, to the new camp at Kounoungo, 70 kilometres inside Chad. Nearly 4,300 refugees have already been moved to the first two camps since the operation began in mid-January. Some 110,000 people have crossed the border into Chad to escape the conflict between rebel movements, militias and the Government of Sudan, while an estimated 1 million people have been displaced inside Darfur. The daily convoys to Touloum are on hold for a few days to allow the registration of the dozens of refugees who have come to the site on their own in recent days, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski told a news briefing in Geneva. The refugees walked to Touloum as information quickly spread of a transit centre where they could feel secure and have access to water and food. With lack of water is still a major challenge throughout the region, a UNHCR emergency airlift continues bringing some 256 tons of relief supplies for the refugees. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners, meanwhile, are also trucking water to camps and constructing wells there. Today, UNICEF chief Carol Bellamy issued a strong call for an end to fighting in Darfur, saying the Sudanese Government must “enforce the rule of law and take aggressive steps to protect civilians.” She also called on the warring parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire and ensure safe access for aid agencies helping the displaced. UNICEF’s representative in Sudan, Joanna Van Gerpen, said those who have fled their homes are living in “shocking” conditions marked by insufficient food, poor sanitation, scarce water and crowded conditions which can foster the spread of disease. read more