Deadline extended for S. Sudanese: Khartoum media
5/2/2012 8:00:01 PM -
KHARTOUM (AFP) - Sudanese officials on Wednesday extended the expulsion deadline for thousands of ethnic South Sudanese encamped south of Khartoum, official media reported.
The decision came in a meeting between Yusuf al-Shambali, the governor of White Nile state, and Social Welfare Minister Amira al-Fadel Mohammed.
"They agreed to extend the deadline to May 20, 2012," said the SUNA news agency.
The previous deadline was publicly announced only last Sunday in a SUNA dispatch and gave the 12,000-15,000 South Sudanese until next Saturday to leave the way-station of Kosti, south of the capital Khartoum.
"The presence of Southerners in Kosti threatens the security and the environment for Kosti citizens," SUNA reported at the time, in a move that sparked concern from the United Nations and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which has helped to return thousands of South Sudanese.
Under the new plan, SUNA said the Southerners "will be transferred to Renk in partnership with the UN and IOM."
Renk is a South Sudanese border town which has received large numbers of newly arrived South Sudanese from the north.
Some Southerners have been living in Kosti for months, in makeshift shelters or barn-like buildings, while they await their journey by barge down the White Nile River to South Sudan.
They are among 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.
The IOM had called on Tuesday for Khartoum to grant more time for those in Kosti "to move to South Sudan in safety and dignity."
It said they are all dependent on assistance from the international community for food, water, health care and other essential services and most do not have the means to arrange transportation for themselves to South Sudan.
"They cannot be left to fend for themselves, and the international community does not have the logistical capacity to move them all out of Kosti by the 5th May deadline," IOM said.