KHARTOUM â€” Up to 15,000 ethnic South Sudanese who have been encamped in crowded conditions in Sudan will be flown to South Sudan, avoiding a May 20 expulsion deadline by local authorities, the IOM said on Saturday.
“We hope to start within a week,” Jill Helke, who heads the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Khartoum, told AFP.
The IOM estimates that 12,000-15,000 South Sudanese are in the Kosti way-station about 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of Khartoum. Many have been living in makeshift shelters or barn-like buildings, waiting for months for their transport home.
The governor of the area declared the migrants a security threat and initially gave them a May 5 deadline to leave, a decision that sparked concern from the United Nations and the IOM, which has already helped to return thousands of South Sudanese.
Sudanese officials last week extended the deadline to May 20 but the IOM, in a written statement, said it has now been assured by the government in Khartoum that the deadline “would not be enforced, given that a firm departure plan was now in place.”
The South Sudanese in Kosti are among about 350,000 ethnic Southerners whom the South Sudanese embassy estimates remain in the north