Returnees from Khartoum arrive in Malakal

27 Apr 2012

Returnees from Khartoum arrive in Malakal

27 April 2012 - Returnees who were stranded at Heglig in Sudan's Southern Kordofan State when fighting erupted between the forces of Sudan and South Sudan have begun their journey home to greater Bahr El-Ghazal.

Comprising 595 individuals, they are currently being accommodated at a way station in the Upper Nile State capital of Malakal.

Part of a group of 1,300 who left Khartoum in March, the returnees were stranded in Heglig before they were rerouted to Renk along the Upper Nile border, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM began transporting this first group between 23 and 25 April from Renk County to Malakal, where they will be airlifted to greater Bahr El-Ghazal.

Andrea Bararde, Director of Intersos, a humanitarian aid organization in Malakal, said his organization would be supporting the returnees with basic services for 72 hours.

"We are providing returnees with ... mainly water, shelter, food and non- food items as well as monitoring," said Mr. Bararde.

He added that the way station could accommodate up to 765 people.
IOM State Numerator Mayen Michael Joak confirmed that returnees would be airlifted to their final destination as soon as renovation of Malakal airport was completed at the end of April.

The repatriation process of remaining returnees faces delays due to the onset of the rainy season and impassable roads. Access to Renk will be further complicated as roads further south become unusable.

IOM and humanitarian partners are establishing a transit site, located on the outskirts of Malakal, with capacity to accommodate up to 30,000 stranded returnees.

Mr. Bararde said Intersos would coordinate with the World Food Program (WFP) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide additional assistance if the returnees' departure was delayed.

"We will exert our best effort to coordinate with WFP and UNHCR to provide assistance for two, three weeks, if the process of transportation is taking (too) long," said Mr. Bararde.