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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
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.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs