Sudan: nearly 11,000 Eritreans have registered for repatriation
Nearly 11,000 Eritrean refugees have registered for a voluntary repatriation programme scheduled to begin this weekend for one of UNHCR's oldest caseloads. Some of the refugees have spent more than three decades in exile in the Sudan, having fled Ethiopia as early as 1967.
The 10,912 refugees have registered in the last week following the launch of an information campaign by UNHCR and the governments of Eritrea and Sudan.
Of the more than 10,000 refugees who registered in the last week, 2,300 were registering for a second time after a repatriation arranged for last year was suspended due to fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Many of those who have registered are keen to be repatriated before the rainy season begins in July. Repatriation before the planting season will allow them to prepare their fields immediately upon their return to Eritrea. There are about 174,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudanese refugee camps. UNHCR plans to repatriate 62,000 of them this year. It is expected that the remaining group will repatriate during 2002.