Monday, November 20, 2006

MSF concerned about the fate of 5,000 displaced persons and 37 staff members who are missing

Attack in eastern Chad forces displaced persons to flee again

MSF concerned about the fate of 5,000 displaced persons and 37 staff members who are missing as violence intensifies and spreads throughout the region.
Paris — The town of Koloye, in eastern Chad close to the Sudanese border, was attacked on November 15, looted and emptied of inhabitants, according to the international medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

The 5,000 previously displaced Chadians in Koloye fled the area and are now missing, and MSF also has no news of the whereabouts of 37 staff members. This situation comes in the midst of several weeks of violence against populations that is expanding throughout the region.

A team from MSF went to Koloye yesterday morning and found only two people who had returned to collect a few items. They reported that the assailants had threatened them and ordered them not to return, forcing the people to flee once more.

"The area around Koloye is completely deserted," said Filipe Ribeiro, MSF's head of mission. "The villages 20-30 kilometers before Koloye are partially burned and abandoned. Ten kilometers before Koloye, there are visible signs of people in flight. There is nothing left except shoes and gourds abandoned at the side of the road.

"In Koloye, the dwellings at the entrance of the village have been burned. MSF's clinic was looted and we found bloody compresses there, a clear sign that people were wounded in the confrontation. The pharmacy was destroyed. The tents and water tanks have disappeared or were destroyed. The drugs and supplies are gone."

MSF has no news about the displaced people or about the Chadian members of its team who were managing the program to deliver potable water in the area. MSF is particularly concerned because of the high level of insecurity as attacks and looting of villages are increasing.

In April 2006, the displaced people in Koloye had fled incursions by armed men on their villages along the border with Sudan. MSF provided medical assistance, drinking water, and survival supplies.

In such a context of increasing violence, it is critical that aid organizations like MSF are able to reach affected populations quickly.

In eastern Chad, MSF has been providing medical and material aid to displaced Chadians since December 2005 and to people displaced from the Darfur region of Sudan since 2003. In addition to the 5,000 people who were in Koloye, nearly 25,000 displaced Chadians are still gathered in Dogdoré, where MSF continues to provide medical care, drinking water, and survival supplies. Mobile clinics have also been organized for the Borota displaced persons.

MSF teams also provide assistance to people in Adré, the refugee camps in Farchana and Breidjing, and further north in Iriba, Iridimi, and Touloum. MSF is also working in Goré, southern Chad, providing assistance to people who have fled fighting in the Central African Republic.


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