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High Commissioner to visit Sudan

Briefing notes

High Commissioner to visit Sudan

20 April 2007

High Commissioner António Guterres is scheduled to visit Sudan next week. It will be his second visit to the country. The first was in August 2005. Mr. Guterres will arrive Monday in Khartoum, where he is scheduled to meet senior government officials, the UN Country Team and the DSRSG [Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General] and UN Resident Coordinator.

UNHCR has been asked by the UN system to expand our operations for the internally displaced in Darfur and Mr. Guterres will be looking into this issue during his talks with Sudanese officials. Among others, he is scheduled to meet with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Interior; and Humanitarian Affairs.

On Tuesday, he will travel to El Geneina in West Darfur, where he will visit internally displaced persons and meet with local authorities, African Union officials, UN partner agencies and NGOs. UNHCR is in charge of coordinating protection for about 700,000 IDPs in West Darfur. We currently have access to about 500,000 of them.

On Wednesday, the High Commissioner will meet with Chadian refugees who have fled to West Darfur. We estimate there are a total of 25,000 Chadian refugees now in West Darfur, most of them in areas adjacent to the border.

On Thursday, Mr. Guterres will proceed to Kassala State in eastern Sudan, where we have one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world. Refugee camps for Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees were established in East Sudan nearly 40 years ago - in 1968. Mr. Guterres will visit Wad Sherife and Kilo 26 refugee camps in the east and hopes to draw international attention to the forgotten situation of Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees.

East Sudan hosts a refugee population of approximately 136,000 refugees. In 2007 we started to shift our programme from providing assistance to finding durable solutions. UNHCR is currently working with its government counterparts to guarantee such solutions are found, with focus on local integration, increased self-reliance and facilitating resettlement for special cases. Voluntary repatriation is no option for the time being.