News / Africa

Airlift Begins for South Sudanese Stuck in North

Ethnic South Sudanese board a plane to fly home at Sudan's Khartoum airport, May 14, 2012.
Ethnic South Sudanese board a plane to fly home at Sudan's Khartoum airport, May 14, 2012.
Hannah McNeish
JUBA - A flight carrying the first group of South Sudanese nationals from Sudan landed in the capital Juba on Monday to cheering crowds.

Travel plans for these returnees changed several times due to fluctuations in north-south political relations. Both countries appeared set on returning to all-out war in recent weeks as armies clashed along the border.

Happy They're Home
Surrounded by excited groups who were there to greet the 164 passengers arriving from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, Joseph Lual Acuil, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, said South Sudan was very pleased to have them home.

"We are very happy and the president is also happy, that at least these citizens, the first batch has arrived safely," he said.

Between 12,000 and 15,000 South Sudanese have been stranded in Kosti refugee camp at a river port in Sudan's White Nile state. Many have been waiting to return to newly-independent South Sudan since it seceded from the north last year.

Many of the Kosti-based returnees will be bussed to Khartoum for Juba-bound flights in coming weeks.

Calling the stranded southerners a security threat, officials in Khartoum recently declared a state of emergency in White Nile and other border areas, ordering aid agencies out of the camps and giving all South Sudanese until May 5 to leave the country.

United Nations partners and the International Organization for Migration (I.O.M) responded to the demand by calling it an impossible task. Authorities in Khartoum also banned transportation by barge -- the primary means by which many South Sudanese were planning to return home -- saying that Juba was using the vessels to ferry troops to the border.

The international agencies then secured a May 20 deadline extension, but it was discarded once flights were organized.

Life in the North Wasn't Always Bad
Sisto Ceasar, a father of five, is returning to Juba after 14 years away.

“Life was not bad in the north, it’s only lately that it started getting bad," he said. "I’ve arrived home and I’m very happy. The environment looks interesting, and I’m trying to remember the years that I lived here in my youth."

Vince Houver, head of I.O.M. South Sudan, said flights will increase from two per day to eight per day in the next two weeks. The U.N. refugee agency, he added, is looking for a site to house returnees temporarily, until they can be matched up with belongings being trucked in from the North.

"People will be accommodated in transit for a number of weeks until they receive their luggage and are able to be sent to their final destination, mostly around Juba," he said.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir were due to sign an agreement safeguarding rights of each other's citizens on April 3, but the ceremony was called off when clashes erupted along the border in the days leading up to the event.

The fighting quickly escalated into the most serious conflict between former civil war foes, and Sudan broke off African Union-led talks aimed at resolving issues of citizenship, oil revenues, borders and contested territory.

Up to half a million South Sudanese still face an uncertain future living in the north, as the U.N. and Africa Union urge the Sudans to return to negotiations and withdraw troops from border areas.

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs