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Half a million refugees return to south Sudan

4/5/2005 6:39pm

KHARTOUM, April 4 (AFP) -- Over half a million former refugees have returned home to southern Sudan following the January peace deal that ended Africa's longest-running civil war, a government official said on Monday.
Major General Al-Sir al-Umdah, in charge of refugees at the ministry of humanitarian affairs, was quoted by the SUNA news agency as saying the operation was in line with the voluntary repatriation set out in the peace deal.

He said two cells have been established in Khartoum and the main southern town of Rumbek to follow up implementation of the repatriation provisions and to compile information about the refugees.

The January peace deal for southern Sudan ended 21 years of fighting in south Sudan that had claimed at least 1.5 million lives and displaced four million people.

In addition to the refugees from the south, almost 4,000 displaced persons from the Nuba mountains, an area the size of Austria where a separate truce was signed in January 2002, have also returned to their homes, Umdah said.

Before the 2002 truce, fighting raged in the Nuba Mountains, for more than two decades. Although geographically in the north of the country, its inhabitants fought alongside the southern rebel SPLM/A.

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