Aid agencies have withdrawn their staff from four refugee camps in eastern Chad following disturbances which led to the injury of seven aid workers in one particular incident, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Wednesday.
"UNHCR personnel and NGO staff withdrew from the camps of Iridimi, Touloum, Mile and Kounoungou on Tuesday 10 May," the UNHCR said in a statement released in Abeche, the main town in eastern Chad.
These camps house some of the 193,000 refugees from Sudan's troubled Darfur region who have fled into eastern Chad since the Darfur conflict erupted over two years ago.
"At Iridimi, a group of demonstrators armed with sticks and stones injured five UNHCR workers and two representatives of an NGO," the statement said.
Three refugees had also been injured in the disturbances at the camp, 200 km northeast of Abeche, and had been taken to hospital, it added.
UNHCR said the trouble began at Iridimi and Touloum on Monday, when the camp residents refused to take part in a refugee registration exercise being conducted there by UNHCR officials.
In nearby Mile and Kounoungou, protests erupted when the camp residents refused to take part in a food distribution exercise which involved verifying the number of people actually present, the UNHCR said.
The UNHCR began a census of the refugees living in its 12 camps in eastern Chad in March. This has so far reduced the official estimate of the number of Sudanese living there from 212,000 to 193,000.
Violent demonstrations at the overcrowded refugee camps of Breidjing and Farchana in July last year led humanitarian workers based there to withdraw for a week. There was further trouble at Breidjing in October.
Several of the refugee camps in the remote semi-desert of eastern Chad are plagued by overcrowding and all of them suffer from supply difficulties and water shortages.
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