Key activities carried out in reporting period:
Although the number of organized return convoys from neighbouring countries remained in decline, this month UNHCR reported that 122 refugees did return under the assisted self-repatriation mechanism. This brought the cumulative total for organized and assisted refugee repatriation to 137,753 by the end of October 2008, of who 60,798 had arrived this year. Figures for organized IDP returns remain unchanged at 28,249 persons so far in 2008 and 81,036 cumulatively. Overall, including the 250,000 spontaneous returnees in this year alone, it is estimated that more than 2.37 million Sudanese have returned home by the end of October 2008.
Final agreement at the level of the Presidency on the composition of the Abyei Administration was announced this month. It is expected that when the civil administration is in place and the rainy season ends, returns to the area will increase. Similarly in Warrab the peace process between Apuk and Aguok communities is taking a positive direction which could help the return of the backflows from Jur River County in Western Bahr el Ghazal to Gogrial East. However, the general insecurity in Upper Nile resulted in the stoppage of commercial boat movement which had a negative impact on the spontaneous return flow to this State.
Joint Plan for Returns
HAC/SSRRC Policy Committee meeting was held on 22 October, where the upcoming return season was considered. A new focus on reintegration was agreed to.
IDP Organised return
IOM transported this month a total of 103 spontaneous returnees who were stranded at the Juba Port to Torit in Eastern Equatoria. While In Unity State, IOM also assisted the return of 31 qualified teachers, and in Western Bahr el Ghazal 20 qualified returnees have retuned this month.
Small-scale spontaneous returns continued during the month. ADRA in Upper Nile recorded the return of (approximately) 153 spontaneous returnees passing through the transit hub of Malakal. ADRA in Central Equatoria registered 292 individuals who arrived in Juba by barge from various northern States. Also in South Darfur, the Sultans and IDP community reported that at least 124 individuals left Nyala by train to Deain heading to the South. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal an estimated 148 individuals arrived from South Darfur, while in Western Equatoria an unconfirmed number of spontaneous returnees were reported in Yambio County.
In Abyei the number of spontaneous return has increased in the last few weeks; UNMIS/RRR estimated that the population of Abyei town has reached 6,000 persons, 80% of which are returnees. Abyei specifically witnessed an increase in the number of spontaneous returnees from Agok (45 km South of Abyei) due to the end of the rainy season and the poor living conditions.
This month the number of verified spontaneous returnees is growing as UNMIS/RRR and partners verified 3,367 spontaneous returnees in Jonglie State, 13,178 in Central Equatoria (Juba Port), 2,773 in Lakes State and 373 returnees in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
This month, UNHCR repatriated 122 refugees, of which 95 from Uganda under the assisted self-repatriation mechanism.
Between 1 January and the end of October 2008, the total number of refugees returned through organized return supported by UNHCR reached 60,798, of whom 59,217 persons (97%) were organized and 1,581 persons (3%) were under the assisted self-repatriation programme.
As of the close of the period, repatriation of Sudanese refugees to southern Sudan and Blue Nile had reached a cumulative total of 294,583, of which 137,753 returned under the organized and assisted self-repatriation programmes.