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Tajikistan: first repatriation from Turkmenistan since March

Briefing Notes, 31 October 2000

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 31 October 2000, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR today repatriated 71 Tajik refugees from Turkmenistan, bringing the total number of organised returns to 4,859 since the programme started in January 1998. The 71 returnees took a train Monday from Turkmenabad and Mary, 500 km and 250 km east of the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat, where they then boarded a plane this morning for Dushanbe in Tajikistan.

Today's repatriation from Turkmenistan was the first since the programme was suspended in March over problems of security. Most of the previous returnees went back to Tajikistan by train through Uzbekistan. Another 14,000 Tajik refugees have integrated in Turkmenistan, but individuals seek assistance from UNHCR to return from time to time. Even before the return programme began, UNHCR had organised the return of 500 Tajiks in 1996 and 1997.

Organised mass repatriation followed the signing of a peace accord in Tajikistan in June 1997, ending a civil conflict that began in 1992. Helping UNHCR implement the repatriation programme were the International Organisation for Migration and the National Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan. UNHCR has expressed gratitude to the government of Turkmenistan for its co-operation in the programme and for facilitating the stay of the refugees.

More than 40,000 Tajiks who fled to neighbouring countries during the conflict have repatriated to Tajikistan since the peace accord, including an estimated 20,000 who went back on their own from Afghanistan. Of the total, UNHCR organised the return of 18,791, including 10,415 from Afghanistan, 3,012 from Kyrgyzstan, 13 from Uzbekistan and 492 from Kazakhstan.




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UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

South Sudan: The Long Trip Home

When the peace treaty that ended 21 years of civil war between north and south Sudan was signed in 2005, some 223,000 Sudanese refugees were living in Uganda – the largest group of Sudanese displaced to a neighbouring country.

Despite South Sudan's lack of basic infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads, many Sudanese were eager to go home. In May 2006, the UN refugee agency's Uganda office launched an assisted repatriation programme for Sudanese refugees. The returnees were given a repatriation package, including blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, water buckets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, soap, seeds and tools, before being transported from the transit centres to their home villages. As of mid-2008, some 60,000 Sudanese living in Uganda had been helped back home.

As of the beginning of May 2008, some 275,000 Sudanese refugees had returned to South Sudan from surrounding countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. Some 125,000 returned with UNHCR assistance.

Posted on 16 July 2008

South Sudan: The Long Trip Home

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

This gallery highlights the history of UNHCR's efforts to help some of the world's most disenfranchised people to find a place called home, whether through repatriation, resettlement or local integration.

After decades of hospitality after World War II, as the global political climate changed and the number of people cared for by UNHCR swelled from around one million in 1951, to more than 27 million people in the mid-1990s, the welcome mat for refugees was largely withdrawn.

Voluntary repatriation has become both the preferred and only practical solution for today's refugees. In fact, the great majority of them choose to return to their former homes, though for those who cannot do so for various reasons, resettlement in countries like the United States and Australia, and local integration within regions where they first sought asylum, remain important options.

This gallery sees Rwandans returning home after the 1994 genocide; returnees to Kosovo receiving reintegration assistance; Guatemalans obtaining land titles in Mexico; and Afghans flocking home in 2003 after decades in exile.

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003