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Sudan: Assistant High Commissioner's mission

Briefing notes

Sudan: Assistant High Commissioner's mission

22 June 2004

Today, (Tuesday) UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner, Kamel Morjane, is on the second day of his five-day visit to Sudan, where he is discussing the potential return to south Sudan of some 600,000 refugees who fled to neighbouring countries during the 21-year civil war.

On Monday, in the capital, Khartoum, he discussed the anticipated repatriation with Sudanese government ministers. He assured them UNHCR is ready to help the refugees go home when the time is right, and asked for the government's views on when a final peace deal might be signed ending the civil war between the government and southern rebels.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Mr. Morjane plans to travel to south Sudan to meet officials of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations working there. He wants to see for himself how conditions are in the south, and what is needed to allow the south Sudanese refugees to go home in safety and dignity, and build a permanent new life there.

He plans to spend one night in Rumbek, one of two towns in the south (along with Juba) where UNHCR has opened offices after an absence of over 13 years. We plan to open more offices to support the repatriation. After a comprehensive peace agreement is signed, UNHCR would begin discussing voluntary repatriation with refugees and the host countries where 600,000 Sudanese refugees are now sheltering. The biggest numbers of south Sudanese refugees are in Uganda (223,000), Ethiopia (88,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (69,000) and Kenya (60,000). More than three million people from south Sudan are also displaced within the country.