News / Africa

Barges Bring Jubilant Returnees to South Sudan

A returnee from North Sudan unloads belonging from a ship in a port of White Nile river in Juba, South Sudan, July 2011. (file photo)
A returnee from North Sudan unloads belonging from a ship in a port of White Nile river in Juba, South Sudan, July 2011. (file photo)
Hannah McNeish

More than 350,000 returnees have flocked to South Sudan since the country gained independence from the north in July. This week, 3,200 more arrived in the capital, Juba, on four barges from Sudan. These people arriving in one of the poorest countries in the world are experiencing great joy and facing many challenges.

The banks of the Nile were packed and people crowded onto the jetty at Juba Port to meet loved ones they have waited to be reunited with for months or years.

As the boats drew closer, the crowd erupted into shouts and cheers as women ululated.

People who have spent months awaiting river transport at a way-station in Kosti, Sudan - and then 12 days packed into boats with as many of their belongings that could fit - cheered and waved back. Some jumped up onto the roof.

Catching up with her children and sister after years spent in Sudan, Saloma Majok cried tears of joy at being in her new country. She left 42 years ago to seek safety and work in the Sudanese capital and escaped decades of civil war.

Her son, Daniel Simon, spent his whole life in Khartoum and returned years ago after his studies. He struggled to express his mother’s feelings at this historic homecoming reunion in the free, but still desperately poor, south.

“She’s very happy. Even in this situation. But she’s really, really proud. This is her country. And, she is my mother. That is a very joyous moment. Even me, I cannot even explain this thing. For a long time I never meet her,” said Simon.

The U.N. International Office of Migration [IOM] in South Sudan has helped more than 19,000 people return from Sudan since 98 percent of the south voted for independence in a January referendum.  

Some 350,000 others have made it back by their own means and IOM says it will transport 9,000 more by river, by late December.

But Jan de Wilde, head of IOM South Sudan, said there are around a million more South Sudanese in the north, and many are waiting to see if an April 9 deadline 'to get legal or get out' is enforced.

“We do understand that there are families returning while the men are left, either in Renk, in Kosti or in Khartoum to see how things work out. And I think basically what these people are waiting for is to see what provisions are made by which they could get a legal status to remain in the north," said de Wilde.

Blocked borders and land mines laid in oil-rich northern states by suspected rebel militia groups have prevented road transportation that could allow cheap and easy mass movement.

De Wilde said that the IOM soon will start flying people from Khartoum, as a cheaper option to trains.



You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs