Sudan: another convoy leaves for Eritrea
With a convoy of trucks leaving camps in eastern Sudan today with almost 1,500 Eritreans aboard, more than 20,000 former refugees will have repatriated from Sudan since UNHCR began a return operation on May 12. UNHCR offices in Sudan and Eritrea had set a goal of 20,000 returns before the onset of the rainy season this month, when the operation will be slowed and possibly suspended from hard-to-reach sites.
Today's convoy is carrying Eritreans home from Wad Sherife, Gulsa and Lafa camps in Sudan. The majority of the 569 returning families are from Wad Sherife and have been living in exile for decades. Refugees in Gulsa and Lafa fled to Sudan last year during the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict.
Although the rains have started, UNHCR hopes to operate several additional convoys before the roads become totally impassable - conditions that may last until early September.
Tomorrow, UNHCR will begin an information campaign and registration for repatriation of Eritrean refugees living in Port Sudan on the Red Sea. While rains slow overland operations, we expect to use a ship to repatriate Eritreans by sea from Port Sudan to the Eritrean port of Masawa. There are around 4,000 Eritrean refugees living in camps in Port Sudan, with several times that number in the town itself, according to government figures.