- After the decline of heavy fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan, at the Chadian border, the region is now recovering. While the Sudanese war parties are negotiating in the Chadian town Abéché, the surrounding area is preparing the harvest season. Over 60,000 Sudanese refugees however still rely on emergency aid.
The last war action in the Chadian-Sudanese border region is an incident reported on 24 October, when Sudanese airplanes reportedly bombed rebel positions a dozen kilometres west of the border town Tiné-Sudan. No casualties and no new influx of refugees were reported after this attack.
Sudanese aircrafts have since been observed to be frequently patrolling the border and additional Chadian security forces including republican and presidential units have reportedly been deployed between the border towns Tiné and Birak. Local police further is providing security in refugee camps, with the assistance of vigilance committees.
A delegation comprised of the Chadian ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs and representatives from the Chadian-Sudanese border area have met in Abéché, reportedly to solve the ongoing inter-ethnic conflict on the Sudanese side of the border as well as to mediate the extension of a cease-fire between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebels.
It was reported that representatives from the Darfur rebellion met in a separate meeting with envoys from the Sudanese government in Abéché. These Abéché negotiations are assumed to have led to a lower intensity in the war efforts at the border.
South-eastern Chad, with its principal town Abéché, has been marked by the conflict in neighbouring western Sudan throughout the year. Sudanese refugees started fleeing to eastern Chad in April and have now reached some 65,000, according to Chadian government sources. Additionally, there are several thousand refugees from the Central African Republic in the area.
Several UN agencies and international organisations are assisting Chadian authorities to supply shelter and emergency food aid to the large number of refugees in the impoverished region. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) are coordinating the emergency operations, assisted by the Chadian Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Among the native Chadians of the region, which to a lesser degree have been affected by the crisis on the other side of the border, the food security situation is reported to be satisfactory. In the region, the situation is now marked by the beginning of the harvest season and "a normal production of rice, groundnuts, millet and pulses is expected in the southern parts of the country," WFP today reports.
The greatest impact of the large number of refugees seems to have been on public health, as the weakened immigrants have brought diseases with them. An increase in malaria cases has now been reported amongst refugees and Chadians. In addition, 3 to 4 cases of HIV-AIDS patients per day are reported in local health centres.
Last month, UNHCR launched an appeal for US$ 16.6 million dollars for emergency assistance to the refugees. The amount would cover "provision of shelter, health services, water and sanitation facilities through the yearend in a remote region where there is little basic infrastructure," according to UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski.
Meanwhile, Chadians and Sudanese refugees await results of the peace talks between the Darfur war parties. A truce between the Khartoum government and southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has largely held while peace talks continue in Kenya. This now leaves the Darfur war at Chad's border in as Sudan's main battlefront.
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