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Sudan: repatriation of Ethiopians resumes

Briefing notes

Sudan: repatriation of Ethiopians resumes

16 January 2001

UNHCR has resumed the return of some 13,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan who have volunteered to go home to Ethiopia following the lifting last September of blanket refugee status for Ethiopians who fled their country during the Mengistu regime. UNHCR is of the opinion that the conditions that drove the refugees out of Ethiopia have changed significantly since the collapse of the Mengistu government in 1991.

This morning (Tuesday), the sixth convoy left Tendba and Um Gulja camps in Sudan, returning some 900 Ethiopian refugees. The returnees have received assurances of arable land, as well as reintegration packages which include a nine-month food ration, basic household supplies and a cash reintegration grant.

Tens of thousands of refugees have returned home with UNHCR assistance since the collapse of the Mengistu regime, including 72,000 from Sudan and 80,000 from Kenya. Sudan hosts the largest group of Ethiopian refugees who fled the country prior to 1991, with 12,000 still living in camps and perhaps twice as many in urban areas.

Since mid-December, when UNHCR began aiding the return of the Ethiopians, over 2,400 refugees have returned home in an operation that is expected to be completed before the end of January to pave the way for the closure of camps that have hosted the refugees for nearly a decade.