UNHCR needs $90m for returns to south Sudan, says Morjane
GENEVA, June 29 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency's Assistant High Commissioner, Kamel Morjane, today appealed for $90 million to prepare for the potential return of more than 500,000 Sudanese refugees to south Sudan.
The Assistant High Commissioner announced the appeal for UNHCR's two-year programme (2004-2005) in south Sudan at a news briefing in Geneva Tuesday to talk about his five-day visit to Sudan, which ended last weekend.
"Sudan contains an unprecedented mix of displacement situations," said Morjane, referring to the anticipated returns in the south, the western exodus into Chad, and situations of internal displacement in the south and west of the country.
"My mission focused on the south. With peace almost in sight, we are nearing the end of 21 years of war, indeed, of Africa's longest-running conflict," he added.
"Although peace is not yet final, we feel that there are solid grounds for optimism, and we must be fully prepared to repatriate, receive and reintegrate those refugees who wish to do so. Returning refugees are persons who have voted with their feet in favour of peace, and repatriation creates its own momentum for further repatriation and peace."
UNHCR is taking a step-by-step approach to repatriation, said Morjane, pointing to the over 500,000 south Sudanese refugees in seven neighbouring countries, including Egypt.
"Our plan of action is ready, it has been ready for a few months now," he said of the repatriation programme, noting that some refugees have already started going home on their own. "Spontaneous repatriation is taking place, mainly in northern Uganda, mainly for security reasons."
While the refugee agency is hopeful about south Sudan, reconstruction challenges remain, cautioned the Assistant High Commissioner. As an example, he pointed to the fact that some 35,000 Sudanese refugee children in one Kenyan camp come from an area in Sudan that has only 10,000 places in schools.
On the situation in western Sudan's Darfur region, Morjane said the Khartoum government has asked UNHCR to expand its presence in the area. Recalling his visit to eastern Chad in December, where an estimated 158,000 Sudanese refugees are now living, he said, "The situation is among the worst I have ever seen," and urged donors to fund the agency's operations in Chad as well.
"It is not a question of budget, but also of human resources," he said, referring to the constraints UNHCR faces in meeting the growing needs in Africa.