US embassy cable - 05NDJAMENA28

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC REFUGEES: DON'T FORGET US!

Identifier: 05NDJAMENA28
Wikileaks: View 05NDJAMENA28 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ndjamena
Created: 2005-01-10 06:50:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PREL PREF PHUM CD SU CT Humanitarian Operations
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0725
INFO AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 
AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 
AMEMBASSY DAKAR 
AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
USMISSION GENEVA 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 
COMSCEUR LONDON UK
SECDEF WASHDC
USEU BRUSSELS
USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
USLO TRIPOLI 
UNCLAS  NDJAMENA 000028 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICAWATCHERS, GENEVA FOR RMA, 
ADDIS/KAMPALA/NAIROBI FOR REFCOORDS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, PREF, PHUM, CD, SU, CT, Humanitarian Operations 
SUBJECT: CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC REFUGEES: DON'T FORGET US! 
 
 1.  Summary.  Central African refugees told Ambassador Wall 
not to forget their plight during his visit to Amboko Camp in 
Gore on December 14.  Amboko, in southern Chad near the 
border with Central African Republic, has been open since 
June 2003 and hosts 13,800 refugees who fled political unrest 
in their own country.  The refugees expressed concern that 
the humanitarian crisis in eastern Chad has overshadowed 
their situation.  They provided a list of needs, including 
insufficient food rations and other non-food items; 
insufficient construction materials, agricultural and 
educational needs; and finally, a lack of support for 
handicapped and vulnerable individuals.  The local Chadian 
population hosting the Central African Republic refugees is 
better off than their counterparts in eastern Chad.  However, 
local Chadian authorities pointed out disparities in 
educational facilities between the refugee camp and nearby 
schools.  End Summary. 
 
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AMBOKO CAMP 
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2.  UNHCR Gore hosted Ambassador Wall, P/E officer, and 
commercial assistant to a visit to Amboko Refugee Camp on 
December 14.  The Governor of Doba Rodai Batinda and Prefet 
of Nyapende joined the U.S. delegation for the camp visit. 
The refugees organized a rousing arrival ceremony, with 
singing and dancing school children, a meeting with the 
refugee committee, and a tour of the medical facilities. 
Fifty-percent of the 13,800 refugees in the camp are from the 
Salamat and Ronga ethnic groups.  These Muslim traders were 
originally from Chad.  Forty-nine percent of the refugees are 
Christian farmers from the Kaba ethnic group.  The camp is 
divided into four zones, one inhabited by Muslims, two by 
Christians, and one is mixed.  All decisions are made by 
consensus and only carried out if approved by the presidents 
of all four zones.  UNHCR meets weekly with the refugee 
representatives, local authorities, and international 
partners to coordinate camp activities.  Africa Concern 
manages the camp.  UNHCR noted that the non-governmental 
organizations working in the camp need more training. 
 
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REFUGEES: DON,T FORGET US 
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3.  Leaders of the various refugee committees told Ambassador 
Wall that they appreciate the assistance of the United States 
and UNHCR.  However, they are concerned that the Central 
African refugees are being forgotten in the surge of donor 
activity to assist the Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad. 
They asked that donors treat all of the refugees equally. 
They also pointed out that some donors do not think of the 
Central African refugees as refugees any more. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROBLEMS 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
4.  Food distribution to Amboko camp continues to experience 
significant delays and irregularities.  During September, 
October, and November, food distributions were incomplete, 
delayed, or not received.  The refugees raised this issue and 
complained that the only food supplies they receive, when 
they receive it, are sorghum, beans, and oils.  They want a 
different source of protein.  WFP used 380 metric tons of 
sorghum from food stores for refugees in eastern Chad to 
ensure a food distribution took place in Amboko in December. 
Irregular food distribution has created a high level of 
tensions within the camp, putting humanitarian workers at 
risk.  UNHCR hopes that restoring regular distributions will 
lower the potential for unrest.  The access road from Gore to 
the camp remains in bad condition and UNHCR proposes that a 
food-for-work program be used to improve the road and employ 
refugees.  Sections of the road from Gore to Moundou have 
recently been graded.  There also is discussion of improving 
a local airstrip near Gore to improve access and regularize 
 
assistance deliveries.  In addition, the road from Moundou to 
Gore is vulnerable to banditry. 
 
- - - - - - - - 
MEDICAL CENTER 
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5.  The refugees raised concern over the departure of 
MSF-Belgium from the camp.  MSF-Belgium established and 
managed the medical center at the camp, but a headquarters 
decision was made that the emergency is over and MSF-Belgium 
is needed elsewhere.  Malaria is the key medical issue in the 
camp.  One case per week of severe malnourishment is 
registered each week.  COOPI, an Italian non-governmental 
organization plans to take over health care operations in 
January 2005. 
 
- - - - 
HOUSING 
- - - - 
 
6.  The camp residents want more construction materials to 
build homes, particularly roofing to withstand the heavy 
rains.  All refugees have tents, but many want more permanent 
structures.  African Concern is helping the refugees build 
mud and brick homes.  Over 400 have been constructed in the 
last quarter of 2004.  Many refugees have built homes on 
their own. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
REFUGEES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
7.  The refugees emphasized the issue of persons with special 
needs.  The camp has a significant number of physically 
disabled refugees, blind persons, and widows.  The refugees 
noted that the handicapped have no way of getting around or 
any activities to keep them occupied or generate revenue. 
African Concern and Notre Dame de la Paix are implementing a 
program to assist these vulnerable groups. 
 
- - - - - 
EDUCATION 
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8.  Heavy rains have badly damaged the camp school, which had 
been hastily constructed during the emergency phase of the 
operation.  Currently, fourteen buildings host 1800 refugee 
children; 1200 boys and 600 girls.  Although the rate of 
girls not attending school is not considered high, a school 
feeding program has been proposed to attract more girls.  The 
refugees would like assistance for the high-school aged 
children, who have to walk seven kilometers to attend class 
in Gore.  For the adults, the refugees would like a technical 
skills center and the opportunity to participate in 
micro-enterprises.  After leaving the camp, local authorities 
showed the Ambassador a school nearby school attended by 
Chadian children which consisted of a thatched structure and 
an outdoor blackboard. 
 
- - - - - - - 
CAMP SECURITY 
- - - - - - - 
 
9.  All Central African refugees were admitted to Chad, but 
an official registration has not yet been done.  UNHCR 
reports that the security in the camp is precarious.  There 
are reports of ex-liberators in the camp, which has 
heightened security concerns. There are two Chadian 
policemen, two gendarmes, and six soldiers providing camp 
security.   UNHCR recommends that security is reinforced to 
the same level of the camps in eastern Chad.  The salaries of 
the security personnel in the camp have recently have been 
increased. 
 
- - - - 
COMMENT 
 
- - - - 
 
10.  There was no discussion of when the Central African 
refugees would return to their country.  Amboko has more of a 
village feel to it than a refugee camp.  It was clear from 
the refugee demands that they are struggling with being in 
stage of limbo two years after their arrival to Chad.  The 
Chadian Government is disappointed that the camp management 
is being turned over to another international organization 
(Africa Concern) rather than a Chadian-based non-governmental 
organization. 
 
11.  Khartoum and Tripoli Minimize Considered. 
LEONARD 
 
 
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