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SUDAN-CHAD: KHARTOUM ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR RETURN OF DARFUR REFUGEES

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The government of Sudan has announced that it will launch a plan to facilitate the return of over 200,000 Sudanese refugees now living in eastern Chad, who have fled over the past six years of the ongoing internal conflict. The Sudanese minister of humanitarian affairs, Abdel Baqi al-Jailani, said that the government has put together along with some UN agencies such as the International Migration Organization (IOM) and the Chadian government, a program that will make 2010 into the year "of the great voluntary return" of Sudanese refugees from Chad. The minister said that Khartoum "intends to regulate the conditions of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad, seeing as the end of the war in Darfur no longer warrants a reason for them to stay there". There are over 200,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad, according to a UN census; this issue is one of the main points in the dialogue agenda between the governments of Chad and Sudan, which after years of tensions and accusations (starting with the support given to their respective internal rebellions), in the last months have been trying to rebuild their diplomatic relations. Today, military delegations from both countries are meeting in N'djamena to discuss border security issues. [AB]