IOM Airlifts 6,000 South Sudanese from Khartoum, Establishes Camp for 7,500 Returnees in Juba

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 25, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Some 11 days into the airlift, IOM has completed 40 flights transporting a total of 5,972 people from the Sudanese capital to the capital of newly independent South Sudan. IOM is now operating four flights daily between Khartoum and Juba.

Today, Friday, there will be no air movements to allow routine maintenance and checks on the planes to be carried out. Morning and afternoon flights will resume on Saturday and are likely to last a further 10 days, according to IOM Khartoum Operations Officer Salah Osman.

The passengers are among some 12,000 South Sudanese previously stranded in Kosti, 300 kms south of Khartoum. Until IOM intervened in early May to move them by bus to Khartoum and by air to Juba, many had spent months in makeshift camps in the town waiting for onward transport to South Sudan.

After arriving in Juba, returnees are housed in a new transit site 13 km from Juba established by IOM and its humanitarian partners. The site, which sees on average 500 new arrivals every day, can provide shelter, basic water and sanitation, medical care and cooking areas for some 7,500 people.

“IOM worked in close collaboration with government and our partners to set up the site in a matter of days. IOM manages camps and transit facilities worldwide and we have brought in experienced camp planners and managers to ensure that sufficient shelter is erected and services are expanded to meet the needs of the new arrivals,” says IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission Vincent Houver.

At the transit site, IOM is providing lighting, tents for protection agencies and shelter for 5,150 returnees. It has also brought in water and sanitation equipment and heavy machinery for site preparation and latrine excavation. As the lead agency for non food relief items (NFI) and emergency shelter in South Sudan, it has also distributed over 1,400 NFI kits and plastic sheets to water-proof family tents.

IOM is funding national and international NGOs providing health, water and sanitation services. The International Medical Corps operated clinic has an average of 150 patients per day. Most patients are treated for upper-respiratory infections and infections from water-borne viruses.

Few incidences of malaria have been reported among the returnees and IOM teams are providing instruction on the proper use of mosquito nets. IOM in coordination with its partners is closely monitoring the health of the returnees in the transit site to ensure adequate standards of proper hydration, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation are met.

The majority of returnees previously stranded in Kosti have indicated Juba as their final destination. But many do not have any family or community support in Juba and are likely to remain at the site until the government allocates land to them.

Returnees face significant challenges including access to land in urban centres and a lack of economic opportunities. But despite challenges to sustainable return and quick reintegration, returnees from Kosti are generally optimistic about their future,

“I left South Sudan in 1951 when I was just a boy, I return as an old man, but I am strong and I am willing to work,” says Amol Jok Ajak Deng.

“I have never been in this country but it is my home and I have been made to feel welcome here. While I don’t know anyone in Juba, I hope that soon I will be able to start a new life here for myself and my children,’ says Teresa, who was born in Khartoum.


International Office of Migration (IOM)

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