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UN refugee agency seeks $63 million to help southern Sudanese return home

UN refugee agency seeks $63 million to help southern Sudanese return home

The United Nations refugee agency today launched an appeal for $63 million to help it administer the voluntary return and reintegration of 80,000 Sudanese still living in neighbouring countries as a result of the north-south civil war that ended in early 2005.

The appeal by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), unveiled in Geneva, aims to ensure that the agency’s voluntary repatriation scheme would be able to continue.

So far, more than 169,000 refugees and an estimated 1.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to southern Sudan since the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) signed a comprehensive peace agreement in January 2005.

But another 260,000 Sudanese refugees still live outside the borders of the country and UNHCR is hoping that 80,000 will return this year, with more than half expected to return from Uganda and the remainder from Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt.

Marjon Kamara, Director of UNHCR’s Africa’s bureau, warned that “if the pace of return is not adequately supported, the challenges for sustainable reintegration may become even greater.”

Returning refugees and IDPs receive reintegration assistance in the form of aid packages and community-based projects, especially in those parts of southern Sudan most lacking in basic services and infrastructure.

Despite the signing of the peace accord, southern Sudan is plagued by insecurity and a lack of usable roads, especially during the May to November rainy season, makes travel more hazardous.