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$90 Million Needed To Repatriate 500,000 Sudanese


UN Seeks $90 Million To Repatriate 500,000 Sudanese When War In South Ends

As it prepares for the potential return of more than 500,000 people to southern Sudan if the current peace talks succeed in ending the civil war, the United Nations refugee agency has appealed for $90 million to handle the expected influx.

Kamel Morjane, Assistant High Commissioner at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters yesterday in Geneva that the funds are necessary to run a two-year programme helping southern Sudanese return home from at least seven different countries.

Negotiators for the Sudanese Government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are holding talks in Kenya in a bid to reach a comprehensive peace agreement that would end a 21-year civil war in Sudan’s south, the longest-running conflict on the continent.

Senior UN officials have said recently they are confident an agreement will be reached in the next few months, especially after the two sides initialled three protocols earlier this year.

Mr. Morjane said spontaneous repatriation has already started, particularly from northern Uganda, which is itself unstable and dangerous because of civil conflict.

“Although peace [in southern Sudan] 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,” he said.

Mr. Morjane said any repatriation scheme would face major challenges, given the lack of infrastructure and economic opportunities in the region.

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