The UN refugee agency says the repatriation of Sudanese refugees from Ethiopia has begun. UNHCR spokesperson Helene Caux told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua that a truck convoy has brought 500 Sudanese to Blue Nile State in southern Sudan.

She says, ?The first convoy arrived yesterday, on Monday. And it departed Bonga refugee camp?in western Ethiopia on Friday. (It took) more than three days to reach south Sudan?These people had been in exile for more than 20 years. So it was really an emotional return for these 500 first group. This first repatriation operation from Ethiopia follows the tripartite agreement, which was signed at the end of February of this year between Ethiopia, UNHCR and Sudan. And we plan to have more repatriation movements in the next weeks.?

UNHCR says it hopes to repatriate 4500 Sudanese from Ethiopia before the rainy season starts in the end of May. Nearly 80,000 refugees live in five camps in western Ethiopia, with most arriving in 1983 and in the 1990?s when fleeing the civil war.