News / Africa

Voluntary Repatriation of Thousands of South Sudanese to Start Sunday

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for South Sudan, Valerie Amos, engages with local government officials and humanitarian aid workers in the village of Walgak, South Sudan on Thursday, Feb. 2,United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for South Sudan, Valerie Amos, engages with local government officials and humanitarian aid workers in the village of Walgak, South Sudan on Thursday, Feb. 2,
x
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for South Sudan, Valerie Amos, engages with local government officials and humanitarian aid workers in the village of Walgak, South Sudan on Thursday, Feb. 2,
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for South Sudan, Valerie Amos, engages with local government officials and humanitarian aid workers in the village of Walgak, South Sudan on Thursday, Feb. 2,
Lisa Schlein
GEVEVA, Switzerland - The International Organization for Migration says the voluntary repatriation of up to 15,000 South Sudanese stranded in Kosti, White Nile State, is expected to get under way Sunday.  IOM is urgently appealing for $3 million to enable it to airlift the refugees from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Sunday, the International Organization for Migration is planning to start moving people by bus to Khartoum from Kosti, which is 200 kilometers south of the Sudanese capital.  From there, it hopes to fly the first 900 refugees to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Two weeks ago, the governor of the White Nile State gave the 12 to 15,000 South Sudanese and international agencies in Kosti a deadline of one week to leave the area.  The governor justified his order by claiming the refugees were a security and environmental risk.

Following international pressure, the Sudanese government extended the deadline and agreed to facilitate IOM's airlift plan.  IOM spokesman Jumbe Omari Jumbe says this decision comes as a big relief to the refugees and to the international agencies.

"It is not what we would hope for, would have wanted." said Jumbe. "Of course, basically, the best way was to, still to use the barges back to South Sudan because that is cheaper and it ensures that everybody takes their things with them.  And also the other utility for that is that some of these passengers actually do not go all the way to Juba.  They want to stop-many, many stops along the White Nile River.  So, the barges would have been the best option."  

Clashes along the border between Sudan and South Sudan have raised tensions and brought the countries close to war.   Jumbe says the government in Khartoum suspended the use of the river barges because it thought South Sudan might use them for military purposes.  

IOM reports it will need to hire some 25 buses and charter up to 100 flights to move the entire Kosti group.  It also will have to pay for medical screening and supplies, staff and escorts, food and overnight lodging for the returnees.  The entire voluntary repatriation operation is expected to take about one month to complete.  

The Geneva-based agency says the two governments are providing travel documents for the returnees and landing clearances for the flights.   

The refugees have been living in Sudan for a very long time and have accumulated massive amounts of goods, including, in some cases, farm and domestic animals.   The government of South Sudan will transport this excess luggage by truck.

Jumbe says the operation is extremely complex and expensive.  He says IOM has $2.5 million to carry out the operation, but urgently needs another $3 million.  He warns the consequences will be severe, if donors do not come up with the money .

"The concern is that the whole thing would be disrupted, making people really suffer more than what they have suffered already." said Jumbe. "And, then there is the danger that even the agreement that we have now in hand with the government may be jeopardized because the government told us we have to move these people as soon as humanly possible."  

Jumbe says IOM will transport people from Juba close to points near their home villages.  He says IOM will give the South Sudanese basic non-food items and medical care, the World Food Program will distribute a three-month supply of food, and other agencies will provide additional essential services.
He says the United Nations is developing a full integration program to help these vulnerable people start a new life in a place that is foreign to many of them.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid