News24

Crash halts flight of sick in S Sudan

2012-11-18 21:26

Khartoum - An airlift from Khartoum of nearly 1 400 sick, elderly and other "extremely vulnerable" South Sudanese has been suspended after a plane crash, the International Organisation for Migration says.

Miraculously, none of the 49 South Sudanese aboard was hurt when the aircraft crashed on landing at the airstrip in Aweil in South Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, said Jill Helke, chief of IOM's Sudan mission.

"The plane is probably a write-off," she said, but the passengers were fine and continued to their final destinations in South Sudan after being examined by a doctor who was on the same flight.

The airlift, which began on 6 November, moved more than 1 000 South Sudanese to Aweil before the accident deprived the operation of its only plane.

The extremely vulnerable group includes unaccompanied children, the disabled and people whose health is at risk if they keep living in the open or make the difficult journey south by road, the IOM said in an earlier statement.

They are among between 30 000 - 40 000 South Sudanese encamped around the Sudanese capital awaiting transport to the South, which became independent in July last year.

The United Nations estimated that 500 000 South Sudanese were left in Sudan before an April deadline for them to formalise their status or leave the country.

Many had spent their entire lives in the north or came to Sudan when they were children, as millions fled a 22-year civil war.

The fighting ended in a 2005 peace deal which paved the way for South Sudan's independence following a referendum.