By Tesfa-alem Telke
March 6, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Over 36,000 Southern Sudanese refugees from a camp at Ethiopia’s Gambela region returned home after almost 20 years in exile following in one of the most devastating civil war.
According to Administration for Refugees and returnees Affairs western region head Tadele Genete, there have been over 60,000 Sudanese refugees for almost two decades in 3 camps of the Gambela region. Two among these camps are shut down while it is planned for a third and last one to be closed in 2010.
Tadele said that in line with international laws and agreements drawn on refugees, Ethiopia is carrying out its responsibility as a nation.
The official said that upon arrival in border towns of southern Sudan, the returnees were warmly welcomed by local Sudanese officials and people.
The first voluntary repatriation process for the Sudanese refugees began by the end of 2006 following tripartite agreement signed among Ethiopia, UNHCR, and Sudan
During the handing over occasion, south Sudan officials said that the safe return of the refugee after long years of exile indicates how much Ethiopia has carried out its responsibility for their safe and protected stay.
Such devotion will further scale up the existing ties between Ethiopia and south Sudan government. The Sudanese officials added.
During their stay in Ethiopia the refugees have been receiving education, health services and other necessary needs. Some of the refugees said that during their stay in Ethiopia they were handled well and they had a happy stay.
The Sudanese refugees were made to return home on their consent and based on the demand their requested to return home.