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UN Repatriation Of Sudanese Refugees

Central African Republic Agrees To Resumption Of UN Repatriation Of Sudanese Refugees

New York, Sep 29 2006 10:00AM

The Central African Republic (CAR) has agreed to allow the United Nations to use an air charter company to resume the voluntary repatriation of thousands of refugees to South Sudan and the operation, which had been suspended for security reasons, will start again in a few weeks.

“We expect to conclude the repatriation operation from CAR by August 2007,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today.

The repatriation from Mboki camp, in the far south-east of CAR, which was launched in February 2006, had to be suspended in April after the return of some 2,115 people, due to the official closure of the border with Sudan following unrest in the region.

After the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005 ended more than two decades of fighting between Government and rebel forces in South Sudan, refugees in CAR expressed a strong desire to return home. Many have been in exile for a decade or more.

“With the resumption of the operation, we hope to repatriate up to 450 refugees a week,” Ms. Pagonis said.

At the peak of the Sudanese influxes to CAR in the early 1990s, some 36,000 refugees were living in Mboki. Since last December, UNHCR has assisted the repatriation of 13,000 Sudanese from CAR, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Some 350,000 Sudanese refugees still remain in neighbouring countries. There are also 4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Sudan as well as more than 2 million others uprooted from their homes by a separate conflict that is still raging in the vast country’s western region of Darfur.

Ends

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