Eritrea: over 10,000 have returned from Sudan
More than 10,500 refugees have now returned to the Gash Barka Zone of south-western Eritrea since the start of a repatriation operation from Sudan on May 12. The operation is expected to bring home some 62,000 refugees from neighbouring Sudan by the end of the year. Most returnees who fled the recent Eritrea/Ethiopia conflict have been able to regain their land and homes. Some are approaching UNHCR and Eritrean authorities for assistance in rehabilitating damaged homes. Refugees who have chosen to return to Gash Barka after decades of exile in the Sudan are being allocated land by local authorities. Where available, families have received up to two hectares of arable land in the zone, the breadbasket of Eritrea. Returnees, however, say their biggest problem is water. The region has been affected by one of the worst droughts in years. UNHCR is working with the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission to repair or expand water sources in the south-west, where up to 50,000 returnees are expected by the end of the year.