International organizations call on Sudan to give Southerners more time
May 1, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The international Organization of Migration (IOM) and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Tuesday called on Sudanese authorities to push the deadline given to stranded South Sudanese in Kosti port to leave the White Nile state before the 5th of May.
A child is pictured while waiting for barges to continue her journey home from Kosti September 21, 2011. (Reuters°
Kosti with its river port on the White Nile is an important station for the travelers who head to South Sudan from the north. The barges transport people and goods from Kosti to Malakal, Bor and Juba.
Since South Sudan seceded last year, over two million South Sudanese left Sudan through free transportation offered by the government of South Sudan, but about six months ago, the process slowed and many NGOs managed to transport thousands by train and by land.
Khartoum and Juba signed in February a memorandum of understanding to help return of their citizens, and followed by the framework agreement in March in Addis Ababa that was meant to give the citizens of both countries the four freedoms, but later revoked.
The call of the two international organizations come after statements by White Nile State governor Youssef al-Shambali whoset May 5 as deadline for South Sudanese in the capital of the state to leave saying they are posing “security ad environmental threat for the state citizens.”
“IOM therefore urges the Government of Sudan to meet this commitment and to grant more time for the international community to work with Federal and State level authorities to help South Sudanese in Kosti, who have clearly manifested their wish to leave Sudan, to move to South Sudan in safety and dignity.” IOM statement said.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari in a statement issued Tuesday also expressed his worry over the fate of South Sudanese stuck in the capital of the While Nile state.
“Kosti, a major town on the White Nile, is a significant transit point for South Sudanese returning to South Sudan,” said Al-Za’tari.”As those awaiting repatriation from Kosti to South Sudan are in a vulnerable position and lack many basic services including adequate shelter, vital and quick collaboration is needed from Sudan and South Sudan to alleviate the hardship of those stranded in Kosti,” he said.
White Nile governor, al-Shambali last week in statement to official SUNA stressed that he will not push the deadline he gave to Southerners and other NGOs helping them return to South Sudan.
IOM estimates there are between12 to 15 thousands South Sudanese in Kosti.
The brief occupation of Heglig on 10 April pushed Khartoum to cancel the talks on the pending issues including the citizenship and a meeting between Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents in Juba where they had to sign an agreement on four freedoms.
Sudanese authorities barred barges to leave Kosti port earlier this year after accusing South Sudan of using the barges to dispatch its military near the Sudanese border. Khartoum has put conditions to Juba before it allows barges to leave the port.
There are some 350,000 South Sudanese who still reside Sudan but since last month are considered as foreigners. However many are without identity cards that Khartoum requests to regularize their status.
Last month Sudan moved the flights to South Sudan from the domestic terminal to international terminal, putting new hurdles on those able to purchase plane tickets.