Abeche — The UN refugee agency said Sunday it is reducing staff in two of its five regional offices in eastern Chad, as a security precaution. This temporary measure 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 deputy representative in Chad. ''We have kept enough staff in field offices to continue delivering services to the refugees living around Guereda and Iriba.''
Some 200,000 refugees from Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region are living in 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad.
Explaining the temporary relocation of staff, Bourgeois noted that "the situation is serious enough at this stage, especially when taking into account the number of security incidents in the past days. For example, in addition to the kidnapping of five Chadian officials, two NGO vehicles were reported stolen in the past four days and other partners have also been victims of robbery."
Non-governmental organisations working in Guereda and Iriba have followed the United Nations 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 will re-evaluate the situation on a daily basis. In the meantime, the situation is quiet in the refugee camps and no incidents have been reported.