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UNHCR says Refugees Returning to South Sudan is a Milestone

The UN refugee agency says a milestone was reached this week, when the number of repatriated refugees in south Sudan reach 10-thousand. The refugees who returned this week are expected to be transported to villages near Yei, Maridi, Yambio and Juba.

Jennifer Pagonis is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the repatriation operation for south Sudan.

“This week the 10,000th refugee to be repatriated by UNHCR to south Sudan under the program, which we launched in December, returned home on a convoy from Uganda. So, yes it was quite a significant milestone,” she says.

Despite that, there are many others yet to be repatriated. “Overall, there are about 340,000 refugees in neighboring countries and whether or not they all wish to return is a bit debatable. Many of them have expressed a wish to return, but the security situation in south Sudan along with the lack of basic necessities is making some refugees hesitate. But as more refugees go back, often the ones remaining in the camps change their minds and decide to go home. So, it’s a bit difficult to predict at this stage,” she says. Pagonis says some of the refugees left their homes 20 years ago.

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