Sudan: Registration of urban Eritreans to begin
Beginning Thursday (1 August), UNHCR will conduct a registration for voluntary repatriation of Eritreans living in urban centres in Sudan whose refugee status will expire at year's end. Estimates of the number of Eritreans living in Sudan's towns and cities outside of refugee camps vary widely, but there are believed to be several hundred thousand. In the camps in eastern Sudan, voluntary repatriation has been going on over the past two years and more than 50,000 Eritreans have gone back home with UNHCR assistance. Around 90,000 Eritreans remain in 18 refugee camps in eastern Sudan.
Registration will take place in the greater Khartoum area in central Sudan and in the eastern cities of Kassala, Port Sudan, Gedaref and Medani. The registration in the cities, beginning Thursday, follows UNHCR's declaration in May that it is ending refugee status for all Eritreans who fled their country as a result of the war of independence or the recent border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. UNHCR believes that the root causes of the refugee problem no longer exist. The 30-year war for liberation ended in 1991 and Eritrea declared its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Peace has returned with the signing of a cease-fire agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending a recent border conflict.
The worldwide cessation of Eritreans' refugee status will take effect on 31 December 2002, which is also the deadline for registration. UNHCR is urging Eritreans to register and join its voluntary repatriation programme. For exceptional reasons, Eritreans may seek to remain as refugees through legal screening or by a regular status determination in accordance with Sudanese immigration procedures.