Long wait over, S Sudanese cross Sudan border point
20 January 2014, 19:32
Khartoum - Sudan has started admitting some of the thousands of South Sudanese refugees who have been waiting at a border post after escaping fighting in their country, state-linked media said Sunday.
Officials in White Nile state "confirmed that 1 500 refugees from South Sudan were taken to Sudanese land through the border at Joda," reported the Sudanese Media Centre, which is close to the security apparatus.
AFP found hundreds of South Sudanese waiting to cross at Joda on Friday and Saturday. They had not yet received permission to pass through the border gate, despite Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's statement earlier this month that southerners were free to enter.
One refugee told AFP he had been waiting to cross for four days and had not received any aid after fleeing the fighting in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan's Upper Nile state.
But Al-Tayeb Mohammed Abdullah, chairman of White Nile's refugee co-ordination committee, told the SMC all procedures to move the southerners have now been completed and "the committee received the refugees north of Joda".
The new arrivals have been given blankets, food, cooking utensils and other aid, he said, adding that another 4 000 South Sudanese are gathered on the frontier and just south of it.
They are part of an exodus that the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says has seen more than 80 000 people seek safety in neighbouring countries from fighting between government and rebel forces in South Sudan over the past month.