South Sudan: Repatriation from remote Ethiopian camp completes
The third and last convoy of Sudanese refugees from Yarenja camp in Ethiopia reached the Blue Nile State in Sudan on Wednesday, bringing back 494 people to their homes after years of exile. With the arrival of this convoy, the UNHCR organized repatriation from the remote Yarenja camp in Ethiopia is fully completed and the camp will soon close. The Yarenja-Bambodi-Damazine return corridor was opened on March 10 to help repatriate some 1,500 Sudanese refugees from this camp.
Since the repatriation operation started in 2006 in Ethiopia, over 9,600 Sudanese returned from Bonga, Sherkole and Yarenja refugee camps to the Blue Nile State with UNHCR's assistance. We expect that 14,500 out of the 61,500 Sudanese refugees still in camps in Ethiopia will return to Blue Nile in 2007 through our organized return operation. UNHCR has two offices in the Blue Nile State, in Damazine and in Kurmuk.
In addition to organizing repatriation convoys from Ethiopia, UNHCR, together with IOM, also plans to organize the voluntary return of 15,000 internally displaced persons within Blue Nile State to their villages of origin.
The repatriation movement to South Sudan has considerably picked up over the past weeks. Currently some 3,500 Sudanese return each week from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt through UNHCR organized repatriations. We hope to bring this figure up to 5,000 returnees per week, in order to assist as many people as possible to return home before the rainy season starts in May.
In 2007 we plan to assist some 102,000 Sudanese refugees to return home and help them reintegrate in their communities of origin. There are still 310,000 Sudanese refugees in camps in neighbouring countries.