JUBA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Some 25,448 South Sudanese refugees have returned home from neighboring countries in the past eight months, the UN refugee agency said on Monday.
The returns organized by the UNHCR and South Sudanese Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) include 6,144 refugee returnees who have spontaneously returned in July and August.
"As per the returns in July-August 2020 were mainly attributed to family reunion cases, eased of transportation from Khartoum (Sudan) to South Sudan, and relaxation of border restrictions -- especially at Tsertenya, Lobone in Eastern equatorial," said the UNHCR.
It said the majority of spontaneous refugee returnees continued to use informal border crossing points and most of them returned to Bentiu, Mayom, Maiwut, Fashoda, Panyikang and Magwi counties.
"Search for livelihood opportunities to complement food needs, after the reduction of the food basket in Uganda's refugee camps, was the major reason for heads of households returning to South Sudan," the UNHCR said.
The latest figure brings the total number of South Sudanese refugees who have returned to South Sudan in a self-organized manner since November 2017 to 326,481, with 205,795 returning after the signing of the September 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement and 30,281 since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region.
According to the UNHCR, there are 2.25 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries including 882,031 refugees being in Uganda, 813,306 in Sudan, 346,349 in Ethiopia, 122,256 being in Kenya and 89,284 in DR Congo.