Sudan PM briefed on UNHCR North Darfur, White Nile visit
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok met with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George Okoth-Obbo in Khartoum today, for a briefing on the outcome of the UNHCR delegation’s tour of North Darfur and White Nile state over the last two days.
The delegation led by Okoth-Obbo visited the North Darfur capital of El Fasher on Sunday. The purpose of the visit was to assess the conditions of a large number of returning refugees and internally displaced people to ensure that their basic needs are met.
Okoth-Obbo explained that his delegation visited Kassab camp in Kutum and they were able to assess the situation on the ground to better understand the basic needs of both refugees and internally displaced people.
During the visit, the delegation also met with the acting governor of North Darfur, Maj Gen Malik El Tayeb, in El Fasher to further discuss this issue to understand the state’s readiness to receive those returning refugees and displaced. The governor called on the delegation to provide logistical and technical support to equip the state police to complete their redeployment in different localities of the state to secure the return of both refugees and displaced.
El Tayeb announced the presence of more than 600,000 internally displaced people who want to return voluntarily after the final rehabilitation of these areas. He said the number of Sudanese refugees still living in camps in Chad was 350,000.
In a press briefing following his meeting with PM Hamdok in Khartoum today, Okoth-Obbo pointed out that Sudan has been hosting over a million refugees as well as 1.8 million internally displaced people in the various regions of the country.
The assistant high commissioner commended Sudan and its role in hosting this huge number of refugees, saying the dispensations expressed by the government should be used to provide yet more protection for the refugees, the displaced, and the returnees in the country.
Okoth-Obbo called on the international community provide all types of support and assistance to the Sudanese so that it would be able carry on with its role of providing assistance and protection to these vulnerable groups.
In an interview with the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) today, Okoth-Obbo says that although the assistance and help of the international community and donors has continued to help the UNHCR in Sudan provide assistance to the vulnerable groups, the budget the commission receives in Sudan is far less than the actual budget of between $70 to 80 million. He says the actual need stands at over $260 million a year.
He also said that although the government is carrying out some good programmes that work well in the fields of displaced people and returnees, some of those programmes were not working as challenges related to security of the returnees have to be addressed. “It is imperative that some of the challenges that could be averted by a little extra effort should not be left to fall back into hardships for those vulnerable groups”.
He said the UNHCR would continue its support for Sudan in its quest to observe rule of law, good governance, accountability, and addressing grievances.
Okoth-Obbo has appealed to donors and development partners to help the Sudanese programmes devoted to refugees, returnees, and the internally displaced, pinpointing that the country has been shouldering its responsibility of hosting them for decades now.
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