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Cessation clause for Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

Briefing notes

Cessation clause for Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

26 November 1999

Three months before UNHCR officially withdraws refugee status from Ethiopians who fled their homeland before 1991, agency staff and Sudanese authorities met this week in Khartoum on measures for as many as 30,000 Ethiopians in Sudan, the largest group who remain outside their country.

The discussions focused on informing all Ethiopians of the change, set for 1 March 2000, and of their options to voluntarily repatriate or stay in Sudan. UNHCR will organize transport of any Ethiopians who choose to return before the 1 March deadline. After that, refugee infrastructures and facilities will be rehabilitated and handed over to the local population. Only 12,000 are still living in refugee camps in Sudan's eastern provinces, but around 20,000 of them have settled in urban areas. The last significant Ethiopian refugee arrival dates back to 1984-5.

1991 signalled the collapse of Ethiopia's Mengistu regime, ending the fears of persecution for refugees who had fled during the previous 15 years. Since then, over 1 million Ethiopians have returned home from Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Yemen, almost 300,000 of them with help from UNHCR.

UNHCR informed governments worldwide in September of this year of its decision to apply the cessation clause, withdrawing refugee status.