News24

Refugees begin journey to South Sudan

2012-05-14 10:56

Khartoum - An airlift of up to 15 000 ethnic South Sudanese began on Monday from Khartoum, an AFP correspondent said.

The first plane chartered by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) took off at 06:15 GMT carrying around 160 South Sudanese.

They are among a group of 12 000-15 000 South Sudanese who were waiting to return to their homeland from the Kosti way-station south of Khartoum.

Kosti became home to the biggest single concentration of South Sudanese awaiting transport, and many have been living there in makeshift shelters or barn-like buildings, waiting several months to travel South.

Sudan's authorities declared the migrants a security threat and initially gave them a 05 May deadline to leave, sparking concern from the United Nations and the IOM which has already helped thousands of South Sudanese to head home.

Officials extended the deadline to 20 May but then told the IOM to disregard the time limit after plans for the airlift were devised.