JUBA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Some 151,256 South Sudanese refugees voluntarily returned home in 2022 amid the relative security situation in the country, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 627,028 refugees have so far returned home since the signing of the revitalized peace deal in October 2018 to Dec. 31, 2022.
"Some 6,845 South Sudanese refugee returnees have been reported in December 2022. This is a significant increase compared to the returns recorded in the month of November 2022," the UNHCR said in its latest update on returns released in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.
The UN agency said the increase in the number of refugees returning home is due to improved security in some parts of the country, enabling safe access to spontaneous refugee returns to South Sudan.
The UNHCR, which conducted an in-depth household-level survey of returnees across the country on reasons for leaving their country of asylum, said 20 percent of the returnees cited lack of access to basic services, six percent cited lack of employment and livelihood opportunity, and four percent cited insecurity.
According to the survey, 12 percent of those who have returned cited an improved security situation in South Sudan and reunion with family members, while one percent cited checking and attending to property as the reasons for their returning home.
UNHCR and partners, on a quarterly basis, collect information on refugee returns through key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and partner monitoring reports.
There are more than two million refugees from South Sudan hosted in the East Africa region, and another 1.7 million displaced in the country, according to the UNHCR.