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Chad refugees in Cameroon start returning home

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December 6, 2012 12:43 PM EST | AP


YAOUNDE, Cameroon — Nearly 2,000 Chadian refugees who fled a 2008 civil war between rebels and government forces into Cameroon began leaving their camp to return to their home country.

State-run Cameroon Radio Television said Thursday that the first group of 182 Chadians started leaving the Langui camp in the country's north.

Political unrest pitting rebel forces against the government in February 2008 forced an estimated 30,000 Chadians to flee into Cameroon's north. Thousands eventually returned home, but many remained on Cameroonian soil.

Diplomatic negotiations began in 2009 for the voluntary repatriation of Chadian refugees. An agreement was signed on Nov. 20 in Yaounde, Cameroon that outlined the repatriation. Many will resettle in December with help from the U.N. refugee agency.

Cameroon is home to over 100,000 refugees, from various African countries. UNHCR says 3,500 remain from Chad.