800 refugees arrive monthly to Sudan from Horn of Africa

October 8, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Some 1,800 refugees arrive monthly to Sudan from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sudan.

Eastern Sudan is one of the oldest refugee situations in UNHCR’s history. The international refugee agency has been in this country working in the eastern region for 40 years.

“The flow of refugees into eastern Sudan from neighboring countries continues at an average rate of 1,800 per month,” said Peter De Clercq, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sudan, in a press conference at the headquarters of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Wednesday.

De Clercq went further to say the overwhelming majority of Horn of African refugees are from Eritrea “with smaller numbers from Ethiopia and Somalia.”

Sudan, which is a hosting country for Eritrean refugees since the long separatist conflict with Ethiopia, saw their number increased considerably since last year.

The Eritrean opposition attributes this visible movement of displacement to the political repression, the compulsory mass conscription and the bad economic situation in the country.

Also, waves of Eritrean refugees were driven into Sudan due to the compulsory military service and the penalties for not doing the services and the penalties that are imposed on family members.

Military service lasts a minimum 18 months but authorities can extend it to as much as 10 years, with wages less than $25 a month. Around 10 percent of Eritrea’s population is said to be in the army.

“Many move northwards to the Middle East and Europe,” UNHCR official further stressed.

(ST)

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