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Summary: 21 January 2008, Brussels/N'Djamena - Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, visited today the Djabal refugee camp in south eastern Chad to witness first-hand the continuing humanitarian crisis there. The camp, near the town of Goz Beïda around 80 kilometres from the border with the Sudan region of Darfur, hosts more than 15,000 refugees from Darfur. Many refugees have come to stay in Djabal after their villages were attacked by Janjaweed militia in Darfur. Commissioner Michel also visited a site hosting internally displaced Chadians in Goz Beïda.
Commissioner Michel said: "I have spoken with refugees from Darfur as well as with Chadians who have had to flee their homes. They are united in their desire to return home but they all tell me the same thing: They can't go home until it is safe. Most are deeply traumatised by their experiences. Europe will not let these people down. The European force, EUFOR, that is due to be deployed, is key to improving security. We also have a moral duty to continue providing humanitarian assistance to cover their basic needs. Places like Djabal illustrate that the crisis in Darfur also has a regional dimension with destabilising effects on neighbouring countries, from both a humanitarian and a security point of view. Without stability in Chad and the Central African Republic, Darfur cannot be stabilised."
This fact-finding mission has allowed Commissioner Michel to speak with refugees, beneficiaries, representatives of the local communities and humanitarian aid workers to learn about the humanitarian priorities in a region affected by armed conflict and increasing inter-community violence. For this year, the European Commission has earmarked an additional €17 million in humanitarian aid and has allocated €13 million for food aid for vulnerable people in Chad (see MEMO/08/7). These funds will be channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) under the responsibility of Louis Michel.
Mr Michel is also scheduled to meet representatives of the United Nations, specialised UN agencies (UNHCR, OCHA, UNICEF and WFP) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent. On Tuesday in N'Djamena, he will have discussions with President Idriss Deby and members of the Chadian government.
There are more than 233,000 UNHCR registered refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad and nearly 180,000 internally displaced Chadian people, plus some 48,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in southern Chad. There are also more than 50,000 Chadians who have found refuge in Darfur.
Since 2005, the Commission has adopted a number of humanitarian aid decisions concerning Chad for a total of €60 million, excluding the €30 million earmarked for the country which has still to be agreed by the European Parliament (EU Member States have already approved it).
Commission-funded humanitarian projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. ECHO has a support office in Chad’s capital, N'Djamena. It closely follows developments in the humanitarian situation, plays an active role in the local coordination of relief efforts and monitors the use of the Commission's humanitarian funds.
For further information: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm