CAR refugees fleeing to Chad
A group of new arrivals who fled fighting in CAR wait as they are received by UHNCR and other agencies on 5 April in Sourou, Chad. The majority are women and children UNHCR/Aristophane Ngargoune

Since the beginning of April, several waves of Central African refugees totalling over 1,200 people have arrived in Chad, forcing the United Nations (UN) and local authorities to locate and build a new purpose-built camp.

With nearly 400,000 refugees on its territory, including more than 71,000 Central Africans, Chad is one of the main refugee host countries in Africa and the world.

Thousands of Central African refugees have been fleeing a volatile security situation in the north-west of their country, which they say is caused by the presence and actions of anti-balaka and ex-Seleka militiamen fighting each other over control of territory and and resources, notably in border villages.

Once refugees are moved away from the border by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners, they are transferred to Diba and Vom village sites, 45km from the border, where they registered, given hot meals and non-food items.

In accordance with its policy of alternatives to camps, the UNHCR has agreed to install refugees in "refugee self-settlement". Refugees are integrating directly into the host community and Chadian villages and not in camps, in order to smooth their integration and avoid dependence on assistance.

"At the sites of Diba 1 and Vom, by their own initiatives, the refugees started to build their shelters using earthen bricks and straw. This gives the sites a village atmosphere with tradesmen by the roadside, and brings a certain normality to those residents who had to flee their villages in the Central African Republic a little less than a year ago", the UNHCR's mission to Chad said in a statement.

But due to the rise in the number of refugees in the existing villages, UNHCR and partnering agencies have had to locate a new site to welcome two-thirds of 1,125 new arrivals.

UNHCR teams in Chad said they have started carrying out the construction of shelters, latrines and water points to make this site, known as Diba 2, allocated by the local administrative and traditional authorities viable.

Works include the construction of 205 new shelters, three hangars, two deep wells, two washing areas, 50 latrines and 50 showers. One hectare of cultivable land has been allocated to every family.

The head of the UNHCR's sub-delegation in Goré, Mbili Ambaoumba, thanked the Chadian authorities for their collaboration and underlined their commitment to efforts to protect refugees, of whom more than 90% are women and children.