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Sudan: Ethiopian/Eritrean repatriation preparations

Briefing notes

Sudan: Ethiopian/Eritrean repatriation preparations

22 February 2000

UNHCR is gearing up for a repatriation of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees from Sudan later this year. During three days of talks with top Sudanese officials in Khartoum this week, Assistant High Commissioner Søren Jessen-Petersen was assured of Sudan's full co-operation on the return of some 12,000 Ethiopians and an estimated 150,000 Eritreans, many of whom have lived in refugee camps in Sudan for 30 years.

Last month, Jessen-Petersen enlisted the support for the repatriation of the Eritrean and Ethiopian authorities during visits to Asmara and Addis Ababa. The Eritreans also agreed to UNHCR staff being deployed in Eritrea for the first time in almost three years. Two UNHCR officials are already in Asmara, drawing up a return plan. During a recent census, 90 percent of Eritrean refugees in Sudan have expressed willingness to go back. Their return would put an end to one of Africa's longest refugee crises.