51st aid worker killed in eastern Chad

The UN refugee agency reports a Chadian colleague working in eastern Chad was killed in an ambush during the weekend. The UNHCR says dozens of humanitarian aid workers have been killed in eastern Chad this year.
The .N refugee agency says Michel Mitna was the head of the Chadian government’s refugee body known as CNAR. The agency is located in Guereda in eastern Chad.

The UNHCR says he was attacked last week by armed bandits and killed, his driver was wounded and the unidentified bandits managed to escape.

UN refugee spokesperson Andrej Mahecic says Mitna worked daily with the UNHCR to protect and assist refugees and internally displaced people in this volatile region.

He says Mitna was riding in a vehicle clearly marked with the CNAR and UNHCR logos when he was attacked about 110-kilometers northeast of Abeche.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic killing,” said Mahecic. “This is the 51st armed attack on a humanitarian vehicle in eastern Chad this year alone, 31 of which belong to UNHCR and its partners.”
“Just last week for example, five staff working for Premiere Urgence, a French NGO that is our partner in the area of Farchana, were kidnapped while traveling in convoy.

The bandits only freed the kidnapped staff when their hijacked vehicle was involved in an accident. Two of the five aid workers are still in hospital in N’Damena,” he added.

Mahecic says Mitna, who was 40 years old, leaves behind a wife and five children. He says he had worked in eastern Chad for six years. He says UNHCR staff in Guereda did not work earlier this week in a gesture of solidarity and sorrow.

The UNHCR has been working with CNAR and many international humanitarian agencies in eastern Chad since 2003. He says they have been caring for about 250 000 refugees in 12 camps who fled Sudan’s conflict in Darfur and have been assisting 160 000 internally displaced Chadians as well.

Mahecic says humanitarian workers in eastern Chad constantly face security threats while trying to help these hundreds of thousands of needy people. He calls armed banditry the greatest threat for aid workers in this region.