Responding to rising violence in eastern Chad, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) today announced that it is reducing staff in two of its five regional offices in the area as a security precaution.
The move follows an attack by an unknown group of armed men on the town of Guereda and the abduction of five government officials on Friday.
"This measure is temporary," said Claire Bourgeois, UNHCR's Deputy Representative in Chad. "We have kept enough staff in field offices to continue delivering services to the refugees living around Guereda and Iriba," she added.
Ms. Bourgeois noted that the recent violent attacks have been accompanied by other signs of insecurity. "Two NGO (non-governmental organization) vehicles were reported stolen in the past four days and other partners have also been victims of robbery."
Non-governmental relief groups working in Guereda and Iriba have followed the UN's decision to reduce its staff on a temporary basis. Some 90 humanitarian workers and family members from Guereda and about 80 from Iriba are being relocated to Abeche. In total, humanitarian staff in the region has been reduced by 20 per cent.
UNHCR, UN agencies and NGOs plan to re-evaluate the situation on a daily basis. In the meantime, no incidents have been reported in the refugee camps.
Some 200,000 refugees from Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region are living in 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad.