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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid