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Darfur camp closes as Chad refugees return home

April 10 - 2018 MUKJAR
Chadian refugees begin their journey home from Mukjar camp to Chad on April 6, 2018, assisted by UNHCR and governments of Sudan and Chad (UNHCR)
Chadian refugees begin their journey home from Mukjar camp to Chad on April 6, 2018, assisted by UNHCR and governments of Sudan and Chad (UNHCR)

The Mukjar refugee camp in Central Darfur is set to close as the last camp residents returned to their home country, Chad, assisted by the UN Refugee Agency.

UNHCR and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) assisted the last refugees – amounting to more than 500 Chadians – to Chad on Friday. Mukjar camp hosted Chadian refugees for more than 10 years.

The returnees received return packages and transportation to a reception center in eastern Chad, where UNHCR and the Chadian government will provide further assistance for their reintegration.

UNHCR released a press statement today saying that the agency and COR are making the final arrangements to hand over the land and camp facilities to local authorities and the host community.

Return campaign

In February this year more than 4,000 Chadian refugees from Mukjar and Um Shalaya camps in Central Darfur also returned with the help of UNHCR as conditions have become favourable for return to Chad, according to the refugee commission’s office in Darfur.

“Throughout the time I lived in this refugee camp, I had never lost hope that one day I will be able to return home,” Eissa Abakar, a 44-year-old Chadian refugee, told UNHCR. He fled to Sudan 12 years ago after conflict broke out in his country. “I feel privileged that I can finally be able to return home with my family.”

Mukjar camp was established in 2006, after refugees fled to the area following a surge of hostilities between the government and opposition in Chad in 2006 and 2007. UNHCR, COR and the Swedish Save the Children provided refugees of the conflict with basic services alongside the host community and displaced Sudanese people.

The refugee agency and the governments of Sudan and Chad signed an agreement in May 2017 to provide a legal framework for the voluntary return of Chadian refugees in Darfur. In December 2017, UNHCR began assisting refugees to return to Chad, and has since supported the voluntary repatriation of nearly 4,000 refugees from Um Shalaya and Mukjar camps.

“UNHCR extends its appreciation to the Government of Sudan and residents of Darfur for welcoming and hosting the Chadian refugees for more than a decade,” said UNHCR Representative, Noriko Yoshida, in the statement. Over 8,300 Chadian refugees were living in Sudan prior to the start of the voluntary return at the end of 2017. UNHCR continues to assist the voluntary return of the remaining refugees.

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