Khartoum — The Governments of Sudan and Chad have signed three bilateral agreements for the voluntary return of refugees from the two countries.
The agreements, signed in Khartoum in the presence of the Resident Representative for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday.
Minister for the Interior Babakir Digna said the agreements represent the starting point for implementing the return from both sides.
The Chadian Minister of Local Government and Lands, Abubakar Jibril pointed out that there are more than 500,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad and 8,500 Chad refugees in Sudan.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga following a visit by a delegation from the US Embassy in Sudan to the Um Shalaya refugee camp in Azum in April this year, the head of the camp said that the refugees reject voluntary return to Chad due to a lack of security and development in the areas of their origin.
People in eastern Chad fled their villages in 2005 and 2006, after Darfuri militiamen intruded into the region, following the Darfuri population fleeing to Chad. The militiamen began to attack the local population, and the attacks soon became common. Thousands of Chadians sought refuge in Darfur.
In 2006, the UN refugee agency UNHCR moved more than 3,000 Chadian refugees from the Chad-Sudan border to two new refugee camps, Um Shalaya and Mukjar, in what was then West Darfur.
In December 2013, Radio Dabanga reported that the 8,000 Chadian refugees in Um Shalaya refused to return to Chad, citing the lack of security, stability, services, and development as reasons. Their status as refugees in Sudan would officially end in January 2014.