The south of Chad has seen an influx of many tens of thousands of refugees within the last three years. After the president of the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR), Felix Patasse, was overthrown in a coup d'etat in March 2003 more than 50.000 people fled to Chad, across the northern border. From the beginning of the refugee crisis, UNHCR has been present in the area to house and protect the refugees.
Following a renewed influx of large numbers of refugees in autumn 2005, UNHCR adopted a new strategy of ‘integration’ for their newest camp ‘Gondje’. ‘Integration’ aims for a joint use of camp facilities, such as schools and clinics, by the refugee population as well as by the local Chadian population. It is meant to bring benefits to the underdeveloped region of southern Chad. On the other hand, this strategy can also lead to a permanent resettlement of the refugees from CAR in Chad. Based on recent fieldwork in the area and in the camp of ‘Gondje’, this paper traces the strategy of ‘integration’ through a number of narratives as well as spatial analyses, puts it into a context of the planning strategies of refugee camps followed by UNHCR, and speculates on the effects and repercussions of this strategy. As emergency situations and the field of developmental work are becoming the areas within which architects are increasingly practicing, the article also sheds light on the responsibilities and the dilemmas the profession faces when operating in these humanitarian contexts.
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