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Sudan: returns to Eritrea expected to increase dramatically

Briefing notes

Sudan: returns to Eritrea expected to increase dramatically

1 August 2000

A total of 11,785 Eritrean refugees have returned to Eritrea since UNHCR began a voluntary repatriation programme on 25 July from camps in Sudan's eastern state of Kassala. The figure includes 1,926 returnees ferried home by 105 trucks on Monday. The number of returnees is expected to increase dramatically with the deployment beginning today of 393 trucks.

The weather has also improved since Saturday, unlike at the start of the operation when heavy rains slowed down the operation. The camp populations in Kassala are thinning out. Many refugees are seen packing up and preparing to leave. Each returnee receives a two-month food ration. Most nights, about 900 persons are staying at the Eritrean reception centre in Tesseney and then are taken the following day by Eritrean trucks to final destinations after registration. Returnees are heading to 17 towns as far east as Keren.

Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to bring in relief supplies to Eritrea. A ship arrived yesterday in the Eritrean port of Massawa carrying eight UNHCR containers loaded with water and sanitation equipment, hygienic parcels and clothes for IDPs and returnees. Large numbers of internally displaced people are reported to be heading home to safe and accessible regions of Gash Barka and Debub.