IOM Prepares Airlift of South Sudanese Stranded in Kosti

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 4, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM yesterday (3/5) received confirmation from the Government of Sudan that it will facilitate an IOM airlift from Khartoum to Juba of 12 – 15,000 South Sudanese currently stranded in Kosti, 200 kms south of the capital.

The South Sudanese, many of whom have been in Kosti for months waiting for transport to South Sudan, will travel by bus to Khartoum and then board IOM charter flights to Juba, the South Sudan capital. IOM is currently developing an operational plan to start the movements as soon as possible.

The Government of South Sudan has agreed to assist the process by facilitating emergency travel documentation and making arrangements for moving excess baggage – a major undertaking given that each returnee will be limited to 20kgs of luggage on the charter flights.

“This is the best solution for all concerned and we are grateful to the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan for their cooperation and support in ensuring that the South Sudanese in Kosti can now move to South Sudan in safety and dignity,” said IOM Sudan Chief of Mission Jill Helke.

The Government of Sudan also assured IOM that an earlier deadline imposed by the White Nile State authorities requiring the South Sudanese and international agencies to leave Kosti by May 20th would not be enforced, given that a firm departure plan was now in place.

“The Government and people of White Nile State have been hosting successive groups of South Sudanese for more than a year in a place not designed for such large numbers of people. This decision will address their concerns and provide a solution for the thousands of South Sudanese who have been extremely worried about their future in Kosti,” says Helke.

IOM recommended the airlift option from Khartoum to Juba for logistical reasons. An alternative plan to move people by bus from Kosti to Renk inside South Sudan and then on to Juba was rejected on the grounds that Renk is already hosting over 17,000 returnees and transit facilities and services are overstretched.

SOURCE 

International Office of Migration (IOM)

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