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Attacks Halt Sudan Repatriation

Revenge Attacks Against Cattle Theft in South Sudan Halts UN Repatriation Scheme

New York, Dec 4 2007 2:00PM

Deadly tribal feuds caused by cattle theft in southern Sudan have forced the United Nations refugee agency to suspend temporarily its repatriation of thousands of Sudanese from neighbouring countries to the area.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters today in Geneva that cattle theft in Jonglei state, located in south-eastern Sudan, has led to clashes between Murle and Dinka tribesmen and degenerated into revenge attacks over the past fortnight that have left 34 dead and scores wounded.

UNHCR officials fear the revenge attacks could spread into areas of Jonglei, particularly Pibor, Boma and Porchalla, that are major return areas for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) since the comprehensive peace accord in 2005 ended Sudan’s long-running civil war between north and south.

“A UN security assessment mission is due to take place in Jonglei tomorrow to determine the level of the security threat,” Mr. Mahecic said.

UNHCR staff have been helping thousands of southern Sudanese return to their homes, particularly from the large Kakuma camp in northwest Kenya, where more than 2,500 refugees who signed up for repatriation this year wish to return to Jonglei state.

Poor weather and road conditions and widespread insecurity meant UNHCR had temporarily halted some of the repatriations from Kakuma in August, but they had resumed again last month.

Working with the International Organization for Migration, UNHCR is continuing to assist refugees – mainly from Uganda – to return to Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile and Blue Nile states, where security is more stable.

Since the Sudanese civil war ended UNHCR has helped more than 70,000 people return to southern Sudan and to the Blue Nile region, while another 90,000 have returned using their own means.

ENDS

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