More than 4,000 Eritreans have returned home in the past four days as part of an operation for voluntary repatriation of refugees who fled the recent Eritrean-Ethiopian war into east Sudan, a United Nations official said Saturday.
UN High Commission for Refugees spokesman Peter Kessler said in remarks faxed to AFP from the west Eritrean town of Tesseney, that 62 trucks organized by UNHCR on Friday brought home 1,172 Eritrean refugees from Gulsa and Laffa camps in east Sudan's Kassala state, bringing the total number of returnees to 4,040.
Kessler added that heavy rains on Friday night caused a delay of several hours before the trucks could use the muddy routes on Saturday.
He said the UNHCR and its partners, the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission and Sudan's Commissioner for Refugees, have now marshaled some 200 trucks to ferry the refugees from Kassala state camps to Eritrea and onwards to their home communities, mainly in the Gash-Baraka zone in western Eritrea.
The World Food Programmed offers each returnee two months of food rations before departing to his home village, said Kessler, adding that many refugees in Gulsa, Laffa and Shegrab camps are now preparing to head home.
He earlier said that about 18,000 out of some 95,000 Eritrean refugees in the three camps had registered for voluntary repatriation under a tripartite agreement among the Sudanese and Eritrean governments and the UNHCR – KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )