YAOUNDE, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Some 4,000 Central African Republic (CAR) refugees in Cameroon began returning home on Wednesday in a voluntary repatriation organized by Cameroon, CAR and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
Five hundred refugees signed up in the first phase of the program, and the rest would return home by the end of the year, according to Cameroon's Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, who supervised the first day of the repatriation in the country's East region.
The refugees expressed hope they will find peace in their country after several years of atrocities that made them escape.
This repatriation followed a June tripartite agreement signed by Cameroon, CAR, and UNHCR for a safe and dignified repatriation of 285,000 CAR refugees to their home country.
According to UNHCR, as of late September, about 290,000 CAR refugees live in Cameroon, representing about half of the total number of CAR refugees in neighbouring countries.
CAR has been devastated by violence since 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals from mostly Christian militias.