Airlines abandon South Sudan flights
10 April 2012, 13:06
Khartoum - Airlines cancelled flights from Sudan to the newly
independent South on Monday, travellers said, after new rules treating
the route as international took effect.
The ending of domestic
services to South Sudan came the day after a deadline for an estimated
half a million ethnic Southerners to return South or formalise their
status in the north.
"We came here with my family and were
informed by the company that our flight was cancelled, and now I'm
trying to solve my problem," one South Sudanese stranded at Khartoum
airport told AFP.
Other travellers also reported cancelled flights.
Abdelrahim, spokesperson for the Sudan Aviation Authority, told AFP
that beginning on Monday airlines operating to South Sudan had to comply
with international procedures.
"This means the flight must have landing permission from the South and passengers must have visas," he said.
serving Juba and other points in South Sudan would move from Khartoum's
domestic terminal to the international one, Abdelrahim added.
Aviation, one of the airlines linking Juba and Khartoum, said it was
fully booked now. The airline offered seats for next week but said the
new requirements would have to be met.
"You should have a visa from the South Sudanese embassy," an airline worker said. "Then you must have a ticket."
Half a million remain
Confusion at the airport added to the uncertainty facing South Sudanese in Sudan after Sunday's deadline.
April 8 time limit ended a grace period after South Sudan separated
last July in the wake of an overwhelming "yes" vote in an independence
referendum that followed Africa's longest civil war.
The 22-year conflict killed two million people and drove many more to the north.
hundreds of thousands of people have already returned to the South, an
estimated 500 000 others remain in Sudan, waiting for clear direction on
what to do.
Those seeking to apply for northern residence need
documents from South Sudan but many cannot afford a trip South to get
the relevant papers.
Only relatively recently did the South show a readiness to document its people in the north.
But even those who have obtained Southern passports said they were not sure how to register their presence in Sudan.
than 11 000 Southerners have been living for months in makeshift
shelters at the Kosti way-station south of Khartoum, waiting for
transport home by barge or other means.
The Sunday deadline fell during a period of high tension between Sudan and South Sudan.
fighting that erupted two weeks ago between the two neighbours was the
most serious unrest since Juba's independence, and prompted
international fears of a return to full-blown conflict.
Union mediator Thabo Mbeki held talks late last week over the crisis
with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart
During the Khartoum meeting Mbeki and Bashir also
discussed the future of the Southerners still in Sudan. Mbeki said
Bashir noted the hospitable nature of Sudanese people and said there is
"no reason for fear" among the Southerners.