250,000 Syrian refugees could return home next year: UNHCR

Syrian Maya Merhi stands with her friends in the Internally Displaced Persons camp of Serjilla in northwestern Syria (File/AFP)
Updated 11 December 2018
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250,000 Syrian refugees could return home next year: UNHCR

  • 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain displaced
  • Some 37,000 refugees have been able to return home

GENEVA, Switzerland: Up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, while many others face problems with documentation and property that the Damascus government must help resolve, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.
Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighboring countries — Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq — Amin Awad, UNHCR director for the Middle East and North Africa, told a news briefing. Some 37,000 have returned this year, UNHCR figures show.
“We are forecasting in this phase up to 250,000 Syrians go back in 2019. That figure can go up and down according to the pace with which we are working and removing these obstacles to return,” Awad said.


Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 20 January 2019
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Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.