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Chad threatens to expel Darfur refugees by force

February 07, 2008 (N’DJAMENA) — The international community needs to remove Sudanese refugees who have fled to Chad to avoid fighting in the Darfur region or Chadian authorities will do it themselves, Chad’s Prime Minister Nouradin Koumakoye said Monday.

"We demand that the international community transfer the population (of Sudanese refugees) from Chad to Sudan to free us," Koumakoye told reporters in N’Djamena. "We want the international community to look for another country so that the Sudanese can leave. If they cannot do it, we are going to do it," he added.

"We can’t allow more refugees to come and create problems for us," Prime Minister Nouradine Delwa Kassire Coumakoye said.

"Let the international community, which is so soft on (Sudanese President) Omar Hassan al-Bashir, seek another country to shelter them," he added

The Sudanese army, in its largest offensive in months, on Friday attacked Abu Surouj, Sirba and Suleia towns, forcing an estimated 200,000 from their homes — 12,000 of whom have fled into neighboring eastern Chad.

The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said about 12,000 Darfuri refugees had crossed into eastern Chad after Friday’s air and ground attacks.

"It’s mainly men so far but they told us that more refugees are on their way, mostly women and children," UNHCR spokeswoman Helene Caux said. She said they planned to move them to refugee camps further inside Chad already housing some 240,000 Darfuris.

A refugee from Sileah told UNHCR that ground attacks by the Janjaweed militia, allegedly supported by Sudanese Antonov aircraft, nearly destroyed Abu Surouj and reportedly caused heavy damage to four camps for internally displaced people.

(ST)

(Information for this report provided by AP and Reuters)