The UN refugee agency UNHCR has invited the Chadian government to station 180 policemen in camps for Sudanese refugees in the east of the country in order to maintain order and prevent the camps from being infiltrated by armed combatants, a UNHCR official said on Wednesday.
Lino Bordin, the UNHCR deputy head of mission in Chad, told IRIN that an agreement under which the UNHCR will pay the Chadian government to station 180 paramilitary gendarmes in the nine refugee camps was signed on Tuesday.
" The gendarmes will have to make sure no armed person enters the camp and they will have to isolate those people they suspect are combatants from the other refugees," he told IRIN by telephone from N'djamena.
The agreement was signed following riots in the heavily overcrowded Farchana and Breidjing refugee camps in July, during which several humanitarian workers were attacked and two were injured. Chadian police subsequently entered the Farchana refugee camp to search for weapons on 22 July and shot dead two people during the ensuing disturbances.
International aid workers resumed working in the two camps a few days later.
According to the UNHCR, there are currently 160,000 people from Sudan's troubled Darfur province living in nine official refugee camps in eastern Chad and a further 28,000 living in makeshift settlements near the border.
The agreement to station police in the refugee camps, provides for the gendarmes to maintain order, protect humanitarian workers and food stocks and prevent armed individuals and suspected combatants from entering the sites.
The agreement, a copy of which was made available to IRIN, also provides for the gendarmes to conduct periodic searches for weapons.
UNHCR has agreed to pay for the cost of sending the police to the refugee camps and has undertaken to provide each police unit with its own vehicle and radio set.
A UN security source in N’djamena told IRIN on Wednesday that the situation on the Sudanese border remained tense, but no major incident had occurred there since four refugees were killed at the village of Senette in mid-August. They died during a cross border raid by 400 armed men mounted on horseback, who were suspected of belonging to the pro-government Janjawid militia movement.
France, which maintains a permanent military garrison in Chad, sent 200 soldiers to the Sudanese frontier in early August to reinforce the presence of Chadian security forces in the area and prevent cross-border raids by the Janjawid.
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