18 April 2008About 8,000 Sudanese remain scattered in a handful of villages along the volatile border with Chad, more than two months after a major round of fighting erupted in West Darfur, the United Nations refugee agency reported today. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Ron Redmond told journalists in Geneva that the agency has been able to transfer some 5,400 people to two camps it runs in eastern Chad, despite the logistical challenges posed by the continuing insecurity and the remoteness of the region.“There has been sporadic military activity on the Darfur side of the border, and armed groups are often seen on the Chadian side,” Mr. Redmond said. “On Sunday morning, a UNHCR team on the Chad side of the border witnessed aerial bombing on the Sudan side southeast of the Chadian border town of Birak.”Most of the transferred refugees – nine out of 10 are women and children – were taken to Kounoungou camp, which was recently expanded but has now reached its capacity of 18,900 residents. This week about 170 refugees were transferred to the camp at Mile, which is 20 kilometres south of Kounoungou. In total, there are 12 UNHCR-run camps in eastern Chad serving as home to roughly 250,000 people.Mr. Redmond noted that most of the refugees had been living in the open since fighting flared in several towns and villages in the northern part of West Darfur state on 9 February.When the Darfurians arrive at the camps, they are given medical examinations and any children are vaccinated. Families also receive tents and household kits for use as temporary shelter until the refugees can build sturdier mud-brick huts.Nearly 2.5 million people have been displaced because of the conflict between Government forces, allied militiamen and rebels in Darfur that has raged since 2003, and more than 200,000 others have been killed.Since the start of the year a hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) has been in place to try to quell the humanitarian suffering and violence.
However, the credit market is now remarkably different and SMMT believes that the current voluntary termination provisions are no longer necessary and play no effective role in consumer protection law. The voluntary termination provisions are taken from an old piece of legislation which was set up to protect the consumer from unfair contract terms. The Consumer Credit Act 1974 permits a customer who has purchased goods on hire purchase or conditional sale agreements to hand back the goods to the finance company, without further liability, providing that 50 per cent of the total amount has been paid. Responding to a DTI consultation on voluntary terminations of hire purchase and conditional sale agreements, SMMT has called for a level playing field for all forms of lending and a system which offers more protection for vulnerable consumers. SMMT strongly recommends an end to voluntary termination provisions, calling the credit rules outdated and open to abuse. A major review of consumer credit legislation, undertaken by DTI, will change the framework within which voluntary terminations operate and provide more explicit and effective consumer protection. These measures include greater transparency in advertising, agreements and in the provision of information, as well as to make early settlements fairer. It also stipulates a reform in the licensing regime and enforcement powers of the OFT and an improvement in consumer redress by introducing an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. In addition, as the number of voluntary terminations increase, the residual values of all vehicles decreases, reducing vehicle equity for all owners. The abuse of the current voluntary termination costs the industry around £80 million which has subsequently increased the cost of providing this type of finance to the consumer. In response to the consultation, Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of SMMT said, ‘ The do nothing option in the DTI’s consultation is not feasible in a modern, fair and efficient credit market. To increase the remaining recovery amount to 75 per cent is merely replacing one set of arbitrary values with another. The removal of voluntary termination provisions is the only solution with viable benefits to the consumer and the industry.’ Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more