South Sudan airlift to start
14 May 2012, 11:12
Khartoum - An airlift of up to 15 000 ethnic South Sudanese aims to
start from the Sudanese capital early on Monday after a series of
delays, the International Organisation for Migration said.
hope that we will have one plane leaving either 09:00 or 09:30 tomorrow
morning (06:00 or 06:30 GMT)," Jill Helke, who heads the IOM in Sudan,
told AFP on Sunday.
The first group of about 400 South Sudanese,
mostly adults, travelled to Khartoum by bus on Saturday from the
way-station of Kosti, 300km south of Khartoum.
expecting to take flights to the South's capital Juba early on Sunday
but a variety of factors have caused a delay in the airlift, Helke said,
citing visa problems and insufficient rest time for the air crews.
IOM estimates 12 000-15 000 South Sudanese are in the Kosti
way-station. Many have been living in makeshift shelters or barn-like
buildings, waiting several months for their transport home.
governor of the area declared the migrants a security threat and
initially gave them a May 5 deadline to leave, sparking concern from the
United Nations and the IOM which has already helped thousands of South
Sudanese to head home.
Sudanese officials extended the deadline
to May 20 but then told the IOM to disregard the time limit after plans
for the airlift were devised.
The South Sudanese in Kosti are
among about 350 000 ethnic Southerners who the South Sudanese embassy
estimates remain in the north after an April 8 deadline for them to
either formalise their status or leave Sudan.
thousands of others have already gone to the South, which separated last
July under a peace deal at the end of a 22-year civil war which killed
two million people and drove many more to the north.
Sudanese who have already been transported from Kosti are waiting for
their flights at a government-run transit centre in the Khartoum area.
have called for six daily flights during the airlift, but Helke said
they now aim to start with a 145-seater plane followed by a possible
second flight later on Monday.