Over 10,000 people flee violence in Chad

Click for large view The refugees have told MSF of how their villages in Chad were attacked, often in broad daylight, looting their animals, food stocks, money, and even their clothes.

Um Dukhun, West Darfur - More than 10,000 people have fled violence and insecurity in southeastern Chad and crossed the border to take refuge in Darfur, Sudan, according to the international humanitarian aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

In the second week of May, refugees in search of security started arriving in Um Dukhun, a small town in the southwestern corner of Darfur located at a junction with the borders of Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). Most of the new arrivals are Chadian, but a significant minority is Sudanese who initially fled the conflict in Darfur and entered Chad as long as three years ago and now have been displaced again.

The refugees have told MSF of how their villages in Chad were attacked, often in broad daylight, looting their animals, food stocks, money, and even their clothes. The MSF team in Um Dukhun has treated more than 20 people with violence-related injuries including wounds caused by gunshots, axes, swords and beating.

"The first attack was the worst, there were over a hundred of them," said a 25-year-old woman from the village of Um Ladja in Chad. "They scared everyone and rounded us up. They took everything and killed anyone who was in the way. They said that they were going to take all the cows, and that they would kill anyone who went to farm and take his children. We came to Um Dukhun as soon as we could get out, because they kept coming back."

During a recent assessment in southeastern Chad, MSF witnessed ongoing violence and displacement. Because of the total lack of access to health care for the displaced and the local population, MSF in Chad is sending a mobile clinic to the affected area.

"We are doing what we can, but past experiences have shown that only part of the people being displaced in Chad actually cross the border," says Chris Lockyear, project coordinator for MSF in Um Dukhun.

"The new arrivals tell us that many people ran deeper into Chad, but we do not know what condition they are in. What's more, the rainy season is upon us, which will leave many villages isolated. The rains will also make it harder to provide humanitarian assistance. We need to help these people now."

The refugees are located in four camps around Um Dukhun where MSF has been supporting a small 25-bed hospital. Following their arrival, the MSF team provided basic medical assistance, vaccinated 5,200 children against measles and supplied plastic sheeting for temporary shelters.

MSF is providing medical assistance in 17 locations in Darfur and in seven locations in eastern Chad.