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Garang’s death could affect refugee repatriation plans

سودانيزاونلاين.كوم
sudaneseonline.com
8/10/2005 7:42am

KAMPALA, Aug 9, 2005 (Xinhua) — The recent death of Sudanese former first vice president John Garang has dampened enthusiasm for repatriation among some Sudanese refugee communities in Uganda, according to a report here on Tuesday.

"We have talked to many who had high hopes in Garang, but with his death and the riots that ensued, they seem to be changing their minds about immediate repatriation," Walter Oola, a field manager for the International Rescue Committee at Kiryandongo in western Uganda was quoted as saying.

Kiryandongo refugee settlement, in Uganda’s western district of Masindi, houses some 15,800 Sudanese refugees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson in Kampala, Roberta Russo, said her agency had planned to start voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees in Uganda by October.

At least 6,000 refugees had been expected to register for repatriation, Russo said, but Garang’s death and the riots that followed had "sent some negative signals to the refugee population here."

"Following the death of Garang, this may not be achieved," Russo said, adding that "the number may be lower than that."

According to UNHCR, there were currently over 204,000 Sudanese in camps in western and northwestern Uganda, many of whom had fled the 21-year civil war between the Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army and the Sudanese government.

The war ended when the two parties signed a peace agreement in Kenya on January 9, this year. Following that agreement, Garang returned to Khartoum and was sworn into office as first vice president on July 9.

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