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Ethiopia/Sudan: Early rain temporarily halts return of Sudanese refugees

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The last group of Sudanese refugees arrived in Kumruk in South Sudan yesterday as early rains force IOM and UNHCR to temporarily halt an operation for the voluntary return thousands of refugees to Sudan from Ethiopia.

The rains have made it difficult for buses and trucks to cover the rugged 850 kms from Bonga camp in Ethiopia to Chali in Sudan with all operations from refugee camps including Fugnido, Sherkole and Dimma now having come to a stop due to the unexpected weather change.

The 616 refugees, from the Uduk tribe, arrived home after 22 years in Bonga refugee camp with a new generation born and raised in Ethiopia. The majority of the Uduk community still lives in Western Ethiopia, eagerly waiting to go home and restart life in Southern Sudan.

IOM is working closely with UNHCR and Ethiopia's Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs in the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees programme through on road and air-lift operation.

About 20,000 Sudanese refugees have now been assisted home with another 33,000 refugees in Bonga, Fugnido and Pagak camps waiting to go home. The operation to help return them will resume at the end of the rainy season.

For further information, please contact Liyunet Demsis, IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 11 5511 673, email: ldemsis@iom.int

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