Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has appealed to the government of Sudan to give South Sudanese stranded in Kosti, central Sudan, more time to prepare themselves for a return home in dignity.
In a statement issued Tuesday, IOM said it was concerned over the fate of thousands of South Sudanese stranded in a river port after a local official said they have up to 5 May to leave the area or he would order them out.
''The IOM is very concerned following an announcement by the Governor of Sudan's White Nile State that all international agencies, NGOs and South Sudanese currently waiting for transport in Kosti must leave by May 5th - less than a week from now,” the organization said in the statement, received by PANA in Khartoum Tuesday.
It pointed out that there were currently 12,000 to 15,000 South Sudanese at the Kosti way station, 200 kilometres south of Khartoum, Sudan’s national capital, many of whom have been waiting for months for transport to South Sudan.
“All are 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 their transportation 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.
The Government of Sudan, in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with the Government of South Sudan on 12 February, had affirmed the commitment of the two Governments that the movement of South Sudan nationals from Sudan to South Sudan "shall be voluntary and in peace and dignity".
The two Governments also resolved "to work in cooperation with all other parties that work on the return in order to facilitate and assist in the return".
IOM said although the MoU only formally applied until the end of the transition period on 8 April, the principles set out in it remain valid.
On 8-9 April, the Government of Sudan made clear that it would be tolerant towards South Sudanese unable to leave Sudan or unable to get the necessary documentation to regularize their stay.
“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.” the statement said.
-0- PANA MO/SEG 1May2012