News / Africa

Airlift Returns S. Sudanese Refugees Home

South Sudanese waiting to be flown back to their country sit at Khartoum Airport May 14, 2012.
South Sudanese waiting to be flown back to their country sit at Khartoum Airport May 14, 2012.
Michael Onyiego
JUBA, South Sudan - An airlift is under way to bring more than 12,000 South Sudanese citizens home from neighboring Sudan. The returnees were blocked from going home when Khartoum shut down some of its borders due to clashes with the South.  After months of waiting, they are finally arriving in South Sudan.

 In April, Sudan declared them foreigners.  Without proper paperwork or identification, many were unable to obtain residence permits in Sudan and forced to leave.  Working with the South Sudanese government, the International Organization of Migration, IOM, organized an airlift home.

IOM is bringing the returnees to a temporary camp on the outskirts of Juba.  Most are coming back after many years spent in the north.


The people at this temporary camp made the long journey from Kosti, where they were stranded for months after Sudanese authorities blocked IOM barges carrying people down the Nile River.

“We stayed too long in Kosti, about one year.  There was no transportation and everything became tied to money," explained returnee Jakalin Zakaria. "You have to pay money to put your luggage on the barge. If you don’t have it, they will refuse you.  My brother stayed and managed to put my luggage on the barge.”

Many, like Zakaria, are happy to return to South Sudan to restart their lives. South Sudanese often face discrimination in Sudan, especially after the separation of the South last July.

“We have moved from South Sudan to north Sudan 25 years ago. We stayed in northern Sudan.  It is better for me to stay here  because this is my country and I have to be here instead of staying in northern Sudan,” said Fazia, who is glad to be home.

Moving to a new country has not been easy for the returnees.  The IOM has helped, but many people at the camp have had trouble locating everything they brought with them from Sudan.

IOM’s Samantha Donkin says the logistical challenges of transporting more than 12,000 people were massive.

“Kosti itself is about 300 kilometers south of Khartoum," Donkin noted.  "So, because the airlift movements are happening same day, it’s a matter of getting all the people onto buses with their hand luggage, travelling to Khartoum, boarding airplanes, then flying to Juba, then organizing their transport from Juba to this transit site, which is about 13 kilometers outside of Juba.”

Some of the returnees will soon be taken back to their hometowns across South Sudan.  But IOM says many plan on staying in Juba.  IOM expects most of the returnees to remain at the transit site for months.

The camp already has over 7,500 people, and more are on the way.  As groups continue to arrive, IOM is working fast to provide new homes for those coming back for the first time in years.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs