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USAID chief goes to Chad to meet Sudanese refugees, discuss humanitarian needs

FILE PHOTO: The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit 2022 is held in Washington

By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development traveled on Thursday to Chad, where tens of thousands have fled fighting in neighboring Sudan, to meet with Sudanese refugees and officials, a USAID spokesperson said.

Some 60,000 Sudanese refugees, mostly women and children, have poured over the border since war broke out in Sudan on April 15, seeking safety in Chad, one of the world's most impoverished countries.

The visit, first reported by Reuters, marks USAID head Samantha Power's first trip to the region since the fighting broke out between the regular army and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Power will also meet with local officials coordinating the humanitarian response to the needs generated by the crisis in Sudan, as well as Chadian civil society and government officials, the spokesperson said.

In addition, Power will speak with U.S. government-supported and other United Nations and non-governmental organizations and humanitarian partners working to provide assistance to refugees and host communities.

Sudan's conflict has killed hundreds of people and caused a humanitarian crisis that threatens to destabilize the wider region, displacing more than 840,000 people and forcing about 200,000 to flee into neighboring countries.

USAID last month deployed a team of disaster response experts for Sudan in the region to coordinate the humanitarian response. The team operates out of Kenya.

Chad, which shares a 1,400-km (870-mile) border with Sudan, was already struggling to cope with some 600,000 refugees, many of them Sudanese, before the latest influx.

Chad has one of the worst hunger problems in the world. More than a third of its children under five are stunted. In total, 2.3 million people in Chad are in urgent need of food aid and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has issued an urgent appeal for $162.4 million to help feed them.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; editing by Mark Heinrich)