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As Rainy Season Starts Darfur Refugees in Chad Scramble for Shelter

FILE A Sudanese woman who fled the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, walks during a rainstorm at a refugee camp in Ourang on the outskirts of Adre, Chad July 30, 2023.

ADRE, CHAD — Thousands of refugees fleeing Darfur to neighboring Chad to escape fighting and ethnically targeted attacks in Sudan's western region are struggling to secure basic shelter and supplies as heavy rains and winds batter makeshift camps.

The United Nations estimates over 300,000 fled from Darfur to Chad since April 15 when fighting between Sudan's army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in the capital of Khartoum.

Islam, one of the roughly 33,000 refugees in the camp in Chad's Ourang, pleaded for shelter from the relentless rain as she stood in front of destroyed tents.

"Please provide us with a shelter as soon as possible. This is humiliating. Anyone in here lost three or four people and came here with nothing to eat or drink," she said as tears streamed down her face.

Some now stay in flimsy tarpaulin tents brought down easily by the rain, others bundle themselves in blankets to stay warm.

The onset of the rainy season makes it harder for aid agencies operating in Chad to provide for refugees arriving on foot or donkey carts, with each flare of clashes prompting more to cross the border.

A recent attack on the west Darfur town on Sirba killed more than 200 people and made thousands more flee, according to the Darfur Bar Association.

Those who fled Darfur reported shortages of food, electricity, and water supply amid violence in residential areas.

"It was not safe to move around, there was nothing to eat in the market. So, we came with our kids and came here, and we found that the road is worse," Mohamed Ibrahim told Reuters.