Khartoum, 12 December 2017: (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees): - After a decade of displacement in the Central African Republic (CAR), nearly 1,500 Sudanese refugees are set to return voluntarily to their home village in Dafag, South Darfur.
Today the first 45 Sudanese refugees touched down in Nyala airport, where they were received by senior Sudanese officials and UNHCR staff. The returnees will be hosted in a transit center for up to 3 days in the capital of South Darfur State before proceeding to their village, some 350 kilometers from Nyala.
“UNHCR welcomes the voluntary return of these refugees from CAR”, said Ms. Noriko Yoshida, Representative of UNHCR in Sudan. “With the governments of Sudan and CAR we are assisting the returnees with transportation and return packages”.
In 2007, nearly 3,500 refugees fled from South Darfur to CAR during conflict between the Government of Sudan and armed groups. Since then, the Government of CAR, UNHCR and partners have provided refugees with protection and assistance in Pladama Ouaka camp, near Bambari, where they have been staying since 2010. Now, nearly 1,500 refugees have taken the decision to voluntarily return to Sudan.
“We decided to voluntarily return to Dafaq, one of our final destinations, because we are well informed that security has returned with the effective implementation of the disarmament of armed groups”, explained, Ahmad, one of the leaders in Pladama Ouaka refugee camp. “I am extremely happy to return home with my family after 10 years in exile in the CAR,” he added as he was taken by emotion.
In late November, the refugees expressed their willingness to return to Sudan when a UNHCR and Government of Sudan delegation visited Pladama Ouaka camp, following an assessment of their desired return area, which was deemed to be safe.
“UNHCR and the Government’s Commission of Refugees (COR) will be monitoring their situation closely”, said Ms. Yoshida. “This repatriation exercise is guided by a formal Exchange of Letters between the Government of Sudan and UNHCR, which incorporates international standards governing refugee returns, including the benefit of amnesties, as well as UNHCR’s role in monitoring the returns.”
To help the returnees re-establish their homes and livelihoods, they will have access to land, and UNHCR and COR will provide them with return packages.
UNHCR will also work with government authorities and other partners to enhance service provision in the return area.
“Returning to South Darfur is expected to be a lasting solution, as we continue to see security and development improvements across the region”, said Ms. Yoshida.
Darfur has witnessed a growing trend of refugees and IDPs returning spontaneously in the last few years. This is in part due to gradual security improvements, as a result of signed peace agreements between the governments and some armed groups, as well as the efforts of the peacekeeping mission led by the United Nations-African Union hybrid force.
Many areas have also become more conducive for displaced people to return due to a growing number of early recovery and development initiatives.
With more than 650,000 Sudanese refugees still displaced in other neighboring countries, including Chad and South Sudan, UNHCR is working with the respective governments to find durable solutions to their displacement.
For further information, please contact:
Mohamed Elfatih Elnaiem, Assistant PI & Communication Officer, UNHCR Sudan, +249 -183 493 664. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About UNHCR :
UNHCR is the world's largest refugee agency with a mandate to protect and assist refugees. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. UNHCR’s work remains as vital as ever before. For more information about UNHCR visit: www.unhcr.org. You can also follow news on refugees on Twitter @RefugeesMedia. (https://www.facebook.com/UNHCR