IOM Begins Major Airlift of Vulnerable South Sudanese from Khartoum

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 21, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM today (21/3) began an airlift of a group of 2,200 elderly, disabled and other vulnerable South Sudanese, escorting family members and IOM medical staff from the Sudanese capital Khartoum to Wau, Juba and Aweil in South Sudan.

The operation, which will consist of some 50 charter flights over the next ten days, follows two earlier IOM airlifts in December and January of nearly 400 vulnerable people also unable to make the grueling two-week overland journey from Khartoum to South Sudan by rail.

Today’s flights, carrying a total of 241 people, included one to the South Sudanese capital of Juba, two to Wau and two to Aweil.

The return operation, funded by the UN Central Emergency Fund, was organized in close cooperation with the National IDP Center and other agencies working with Southern Sudanese in Sudan.

The Sudanese authorities agreed in December to allow South Sudanese to travel home on IOM-supported flights without travel or identity documents.

The vulnerable returnees were selected from thousands of South Sudanese who have been waiting for months for return assistance in so-called ‘open areas’ in Khartoum and at the Kosti way-station in White Nile State, a four-hour drive south of the capital.

Every return flight is met by IOM staff in Wau, Juba and Aweil, where the returnees are offered temporary accommodation in transit centers, as well as health and social services in cooperation with other humanitarian agencies, including WHO and UNHCR.

IOM also distributes essential non-food relief items and arranges the returnees’ transportation to their final destinations in South Sudan.

SOURCE 

International Office of Migration (IOM)

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