IOM prepares airlift of South Sudanese stranded in Kosti
3 May 2012 – The Sudanese government confirmed today that it would assist with an airlift from Khartoum to Juba of 12-15,000 South Sudanese currently stranded in the Sudanese town of Kosti, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Many South Sudanese have been in Kosti, 200 kilometres south of Khartoum, for months awaiting transport to their homeland. They 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 South Sudanese government has agreed to assist with emergency travel documentation and make arrangements for moving excess baggage - a major undertaking, given that each returnee will be limited to 20 kilograms 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 Sudanese government also assured IOM that an earlier deadline imposed by the White Nile State authorities requiring South Sudanese and international agencies to leave Kosti by 20 May 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" Ms. Helke said. "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."
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, as Renk was already hosting over 17,000 returnees and transit facilities as well as services are overstretched.