Horn of Africa: pace of Eritrean return slows
As of this morning, a total of 21,212 Eritrean refugees (6,400 families) had voluntarily returned to Eritrea from camps in Sudan. On Wednesday, the 16th day of the repatriation operation for some 90,000 Eritrean refugees who fled to Sudan following the most recent fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea, 451 people went home to Eritrea's western province of Gash-Barka. Yesterday, only 48 went back. The pace of the return operation has been slowing over the past few days, now that few volunteers remain in the Sudanese camp at Shagarab. The largest number of returnees to date came from Shagarab, one of three camps taking part in the return. The Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) and UNHCR will keep trucks in Shagarab for a few more days to offer assistance to any remaining refugees who come forward wishing to repatriate.
In Eritrea, an estimated 160,000 internally displaced persons are also reported to have returned home. At the same time, a steady stream of displaced people continues to arrive from areas currently occupied by the Ethiopian army, in the Debub and Gash-Barka zones. The IDP camp at Adi-Kashi, in Gash-Barka, continues to receive up to 300 new arrivals per day.
The first plane in a four-flight UNHCR airlift this week from Nairobi arrived yesterday (10 Aug.) in Asmara, delivering relief items for internally displaced persons and returnees from Sudan. Three more flights are scheduled - today, tomorrow and Sunday. The airlift is transporting a variety of urgently needed supplies, including 25,000 kerosene stoves, 42,000 blankets and 600 boxes of kitchen sets purchased in the region with funds provided by the U.S. government.