Two new UN repatriation corridors to be opened for Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia
The United Nations refugee agency is set to open two new repatriation corridors from western Ethiopia to south Sudan to pave the way home for thousands of Sudanese who fled two decades of civil war that uprooted some 4.5 million people overall.
Since the signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLA) in January 2005, some 102,000 refugees have returned to south Sudan from various countries, including 32,400 with assistance from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which last week launched a $56.1 million appeal for this year’s repatriation and reintegration operation.
The two new corridors, bringing to three the total from Ethiopia, will help UNHCR repatriate most of the 37,000 refugees living in three camps in Ethiopia. They bring to eight the total number of corridors from Sudan’s southern neighbours – the Central Africa Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and Kenya as well as Ethiopia.
Tomorrow, the first convoy organized by UNHCR, the Ethiopian Government and the inter-governmental International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is expected to take 300 Sudanese refugees from Fugnido, the largest refugee camp in Ethiopia with a population of 27,000 Sudanese. A second convoy tomorrow is set to return 500 refugees from the small and isolated Yarenja camp, which houses 1,500 people.
Before leaving the camps, UNHCR and its partners will provide returnees with blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, a water filter and sanitary kits. Other supplies will be provided upon arrival.
In 2007, the agency plans to help 20,000 Sudanese to return from Ethiopia, nearly one-third of the 66,000 living there. Some 6,285 Sudanese have already returned home from Ethiopia with UNHCR assistance since the voluntary repatriation programme was launched in March 2006. Thousands more have returned using their own means.
During the brutal civil war, some 500,000 Sudanese are estimated to have fled to neighbouring countries while another 4 million were internally displaced. The separate, ongoing conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region has uprooted some 2.5 million people, of whom 230,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad.