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Sudan: UNHCR urges donor support for Eritrean return

Briefing notes

Sudan: UNHCR urges donor support for Eritrean return

23 March 2001

UNHCR is urging donor support for the return of Eritreans from Sudan after the two countries yesterday (Thursday) agreed on the repatriation of 160,000 people, some of whom have lived in exile for more than three decades. Under the agreement, signed in Khartoum on Thursday by Sudanese and Eritrean government officials and the top UNHCR representative in the region, UNHCR will help with the return. An estimated 62,000 people are supposed to go back this year, and another 90.000 will be repatriated next year. Last December, in anticipation of an agreement, UNHCR asked donors for US$ 24 million to pay for the repatriation, which would put an end to one of Africa's longest refugee situations. To date we have received no funding pledges, but hope that yesterday's agreement will encourage the donors' generosity.

Last summer, UNHCR repatriated some 25,000 Eritreans who earlier in the year had fled to Sudan during an outbreak of hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia. But some 160,000 Eritreans who had fled to Sudan during the war of independence under the Mengistu regime and even earlier, during the reign of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, still remain in Sudan.