Khartoum (Fides Service) – There is growing concern with regard to the return of Sudanese refugees from neighbouring countries. As the signing of a peace agreement between the Khartoum government and the SPLA Sudan People’s Liberation Army appears ever closer there is increasing pressure in countries hosting these refugees for repatriation as soon as possible.
It is estimated that at least 570,000 people fled Sudan because of war: 223,000 to Uganda, 88,000 to Ethiopia, 70,000 to Democratic Congo, 70,000 to Chad and 60,000 to Kenya.
Besides these there are between 3 and 4 million internally displaced persons and if all were to return en masse it would create an enormous humanitarian problem. In fact a non organised return would mean the movement of millions of people on foot across vast areas of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. In the capital Khartoum in the north alone there are around 2 million displaced persons originally from southern Sudan.
In the face of this threatening humanitarian disaster, UN aid agencies are preparing an emergency plan. (L.M.) (Fides Service 12/11/2003 lines 19 words 212)