IOM to airlift South Sudanese stranded in White Nile
KHARTOUM, May 05, 2012 (Menafn - Sudan Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --South Sudanese stranded in the capital of White Nile, Kosti, will be transported by airplane to Juba, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Friday, abandoning a previous plan to move them to Upper Nile State by bus.
Following the occupation of Heglig by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the governor of White Nile State Yusuf al-Shambali, citing insecurity concerns, said that the presence of over 12,000 South Sudanese in Kosti is no longer tolerated and they have to move before 5 May.
The South Sudanese have been blocked in the river port town, Kosti, since several months as Sudan decided to prevent his barges from travelling to South Sudan accusing the SPLA, of using it to transport soldiers and weapons from Juba to the border zones.
The returnees "will travel by bus to Khartoum and then board IOM charter flights to Juba, the South Sudan capital." IOM said on Friday, adding they are "currently developing an operational plan to start the movements as soon as possible."
Juba agreed to issue emergency travel documentation to facilitate their departure from Khartoum. Also, South Sudanese authorities agreed to make arrangements to move excess baggage given that every passenger will be allowed to take only 20kg of luggage with them in the fight.
"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.
IOM initially decided to transport the South Sudanese by road to Renk, in South Sudan's neighbouring Upper Nile State. However, the international organisation opted for the second solution because this plan "was rejected on the grounds that Renk is already hosting over 17,000 returnees and transit facilities and services are overstretched."
IOM did not disclose whether the rejection came from Juba or the Upper Nile authorities.
Sudan earlier this week agreed to extend the deadline fixed by the governor to 20 May.
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