Sudanese Refugees Repatriated from Uganda reach 50,000

The number of Sudanese refugees repatriated from Uganda with assistance from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) topped the 50,000 mark yesterday.

A statement from the office of the UNHCR spokesperson in Kampala says that a convoy carrying 240 people left Palorinya refugee settlement Moyo District yesterday morning, destined for the Eastern Equatoria state in Sudan. The refugees, who spent the night at a UNHCR way station in Nimule, will be given a repatriation package, including beddings, plastic sheets, mosquito nets and house and farm equipment before being transported today to their home villages.

Stefano Severe, the UNHCR representative in Uganda, said his organization is happy that it has been able to help 50,000 Sudanese to return home. He said more Sudanese are waiting for support to go back to South Sudan and it is the hope of UNHCR that this request will be satisfied as soon as possible.

The UN refuge agency's Uganda office launched the assisted repatriation programme in May 2006 and of the 50,000 returnees, almost half were helped back home since the beginning of this year. A further 59,000 Sudanese refugees are believed to have returned home from the northern Uganda districts of Moyo, Arua, Yumbe, and Adjumani without outside help in the past two years.

The rate of return is expected to increase substantially. Currently, an average 1,200 refugees are returning from Uganda to South Sudan every week