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Eritrea-Sudan-UNHCR Tripartite Agreement

Briefing notes

Eritrea-Sudan-UNHCR Tripartite Agreement

7 April 2000

Eritrea, Sudan and UNHCR concluded an agreement this morning in Geneva on the legal framework for the repatriation of some 160,000 Eritrean refugees currently in Sudan. Some have been in exile in Sudan for as long as 30 years. Most have expressed a desire to go home.

The agreement recognizes the right of individuals to go home, as well as the strictly voluntary nature of the return. It also provides for "go-and-see" visits to Eritrea by refugee representatives, who can then report back on conditions in Eritrea to those still in Sudan. The agreement also includes provision for UNHCR's monitoring role to ensure that the returns are strictly voluntary and to monitor the consequences of return. The parties underscore that refugees will not be returned to conflict-affected areas. The agreement calls for a detailed operations plan that will cover, among other things, reintegration activities in Eritrea as well as rehabilitation of refugee-affected areas in Sudan. The parties paid tribute to Sudan for having hosted the Eritrean refugees. Sudan pledged to facilitate the repatriation of those who volunteer, but also to continue providing protection, with the assistance of UNHCR, to those refugees who do not opt to return at this time.