9 November 2010 -
People have a right to return to their places of origin but must do so voluntarily, said the UN's top humanitarian affairs and relief official Valerie Amos at a press conference in Khartoum.
"Ensuring that returns take place in a free and principled manner is the responsibility of the government," said the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at UNMIS Headquarters as she wrapped up a five-day visit to Sudan.
Ms. Amos said that the safety and security of returnees was the responsibility of their government, which should also make arrangements for the provision of basic services.
A phased return over time is preferable to a repatriation en masse, the UN official noted, in order to give returnees more prospects for finding jobs and getting access to services.
Humanitarian workers stand ready to provide assistance to returnees in cases where there was a clear need for their support and the government lacked the capacity to meet their needs, said Ms. Amos.
She also drew attention to deteriorating security conditions faced by humanitarian agencies in recent months.
Since last March, 27 international aid workers and peacekeepers had been kidnapped in Sudan, according to the UN official, and four of them remain in captivity.
"Growing insecurity is a major concern and is limiting the freedom of movement of humanitarian workers and their ability to offer assistance to people in need," said Ms. Amos, who urged Sudanese authorities to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to book.
She called on local and federal government officials in Sudan to ensure that the delivery of humanitarian assistance not be impeded or subjected to political, ethnic or religious considerations.
During her visit to Sudan, the UN official met with displaced persons, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations and the United Nations in Northern Sudan, Darfur and Southern Sudan.