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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April 2005, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
Chad refugees face water shortage
By Martin Plaut
BBC News, Abeche, Chad

File photograph of Sudanese refugees in Chad collecting water from a well
Last year's poor rainfall has contributed to the problem
Camps housing 200,000 Sudanese refugees who fled to eastern Chad to escape the fighting in Darfur are running critically short of water.

In some camps, water supplies to the refugees are already being reduced.

With the rains only expected in about six weeks' time, aid agencies are now increasingly worried about how they will keep the refugees supplied.

The camps strung out along the Chad Sudan border are swelteringly hot at this time of the year.

Temperatures regularly reach over 50C in the shade and there is precious little of that in this desolate semi-arid region. Oxfam is responsible for providing water to the refugees and now has made the difficult decision to cut supplies at Am Nabak, a camp housing 16,500 refugees.

A spokesman for Oxfam, Frederick Fedida, says they can now only provide a third of the internationally recognised standard of water supplies.

That is just five litres a day for cooking, drinking and washing. Oxfam is conducting an urgent search for alternative supplies until the rains can replenish the wells that this region relies on.

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