IOM Completes Airlift of Stranded South Sudanese from Khartoum to Juba
GENEVA, Switzerland, June 6, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A 24-day IOM airbridge of 79 flights carrying 11,840 stranded South Sudanese from the Sudanese capital Khartoum to Juba in South Sudan ended today.
The South Sudanese, who had spent months in the Kosti way station 300 kms south of Khartoum waiting for transport from Sudan to South Sudan, joined the airlift voluntarily, after the Governor of White Nile State ordered them to leave the site by May 5th. As a condition of organizing the airlift, IOM insisted that the deadline be lifted.
IOM staff responsible for registration, drawing up flight manifests and pre-travel medical screening will leave Kosti way station shortly, as the site is now being dismantled by White Nile State officials.
The final flight, which left Khartoum at 13.00 today (6/6/12), was seen off by senior representatives of the Sudanese Ministry of Welfare and Social Security and the Ministry of Interior, the National IDP Center, the Civil Aviation authority, the South Sudan Embassy and key partner agencies.
The operation, which was funded by the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) cost some USD 5.5 million and moved on average 550 people a day using IOM-chartered aircraft.
"The success of this one-off operation, despite the challenges of extreme heat, dust storms and technical challenges posed by excess baggage was due to excellent cooperation between IOM staff, government and aid agency partners, and service providers every step of the way," said IOM Sudan Chief of Mission Jill Helke.
IOM registered and medically screened passengers in Kosti before bussing them to Khartoum. In order to allow two flight rotations a day, passengers for the first flight of each day spent the night in Khartoum's National Camping Centre.
On arrival in Juba, passengers were met by IOM staff and moved to a transit site established and managed by IOM and UNHCR, in coordination with South Sudan's Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission.
The facility, which can accommodate up to 7,000 people, is currently assisting 3,500 South Sudanese from Kosti who returned with the airlift.
In addition to registering new arrivals and sharing information on the most vulnerable with humanitarian partners, IOM is providing shelter, water and sanitation, lighting and non food emergency relief items in the transit site.
IOM is also organizing onward transportation for returning South Sudanese arriving in Juba. To date it has organized three road convoys - two to Eastern Equatoria and one to Western Equatoria - to help a total of nearly 1,600 people to reach their final destinations.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in July 2011.