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Eritrea: 3,000 have returned from Sudan since May 12

Briefing notes

Eritrea: 3,000 have returned from Sudan since May 12

18 May 2001

More than 3,000 Eritrean refugees have returned from camps in Sudan since the start of a voluntary repatriation on 12 May. UNHCR protection teams have begun to travel through villages in the Gash Barka Zone to monitor the reception and assistance given to the returnees. Seventy per cent of the refugees returning to Eritrea are returning to the Gash Barka area. This morning, the third repatriation convoy crossed the Sudanese border into Eritrea, bringing back 1,085 refugees, many of whom fled during last year's conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

UNHCR is transporting the returnees from camps in eastern Sudan to a transit centre in Tesseney, western Eritrea. From there, the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission and the country's Ministry of Health are organising general assistance and onward transport to their home villages. The International Medical Corps is providing ambulance escort for the convoys. The repatriation is continuing smoothly, with a convoy of 1,000-1,500 people expected twice a week. Nearly 20,000 refugees have now registered for return to Eritrea.

There are about 174,000 Eritrean refugees in camps in Sudan. Some of the refugees have spent more than 30 years in exile.