6 February 2009Thousands of refugees from the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR) have flooded into south-eastern Chad, fleeing renewed violence between the Government and rebel militia, the United Nations refugee agency announced today. In the last few days alone, up to 5,000 refugees have sought safety in the remote Daha village area of Chad after fighting, which flared up in CAR towards the end of December, intensified earlier this week, bringing the total number of refugees stranded in the area to around 10,000. “Most of the new arrivals are women and children,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Ron Redmond.“Many are sheltered under trees in the open. Others have constructed flimsy shelters that offer very little protection from the weather,” Mr. Redmond told journalists at a briefing in Geneva.Local authorities have reported to UNHCR that food is scarce and medical supplies have run out as a result of the sudden influx of new refugees. Highlighting the refugees’ dire need for assistance, Mr. Redmond said that “medical supplies are urgently needed – especially to treat malaria. Refugees as well as the local population of Daha – about 4,000 people – have little access to clean water.”An emergency relief convoy of 11 trucks and five light vehicles from UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the German Government is scheduled to leave Abéché – the agency’s operations hub in eastern Chad – on Friday on a three-day, 720 kilometre trip south to Daha.The trucks will ship food, medical supplies and basic assistance items, including 2,500 pieces of plastic sheeting, 3,000 kitchen sets, 3,000 jerry cans, 4,000 blankets, 4,500 mats and soap. WFP is providing 15-day food rations for the 10,000 people and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching 20 tons of essential supplies – including vaccines against measles – and will conduct a health/nutrition assessment. “The main problem remains the logistical challenges to reach the area. Roads are in very bad condition and will become impassable once the rainy season starts in two months,” said Mr. Redmond. “We are exploring the possibility of using an airstrip in Haraze Manguiegne, 120 kilometres from Daha.”Last month the Security Council approved the deployment of some 5,500 UN blue helmets to replace European troops in areas of Chad and CAR, and boost the UN mission there, known as MINURCAT.Eastern Chad faces an acute humanitarian challenge with over 290,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur war, more than 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a further 700,000 individuals among host communities in need of food, water and health care.