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Tut Gatluak, well-wishers airlift 500 returnees to Juba

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Monday, April 24, 2023

Returnees fleeing fighting in Sudan board a cargo plane Paloch County on Saturday. | Photo: Sarah Michael.

More than 500 South Sudanese citizens who crossed from Sudan into Upper Nile State due to the fighting, were airlifted to Juba on Saturday, a local official said.

The returnees were transported from Meluth Renk County to Juba after well-wishers hired seven planes to reunite them with their families.

Meluth Commissioner Barac Chol Aginy said they have decided to transport the returnees due to a lack of basic service in the border area.

Chol said the planes were hired by some senior government officials and business people.

“These planes were donated by the President’s Advisor for Security Affairs and some philanthropists. I also took the initiative with the Ministry of Petroleum to provide a plane daily to transport the returnees from Sudan.”

Chol added that Meluth had seen an increasing number of returnees crossing into South Sudan by land as the fighting in Khartoum enters the second week.

“This is because there are not enough services for the large numbers of people returning. Today [Sunday] only, more than 400 people travelled. There are still many in the airport buildings. We will transfer the returnees by road from Jude crossing to Paloch and then to Juba.”

Fighting in Sudan now enters the second week despite the declaration of a three-day truce between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to enable people to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands wounded since the fighting erupted last Saturday.

Rescue operations ongoing

Foreign governments including European countries, Japan, and the US are evacuating their embassies from Khartoum amid the ongoing street fighting.

The main airport in the capital Khartoum has been the site of heavy fighting and is under the control of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that is battling the army, AFP reports.

Western countries including the US and the UK have only evacuated their diplomats and embassies staff – leaving ordinary citizens behind.

Several thousand US citizens including dual nationals are thought to remain in the country after the US evacuated only less than 100 people.

According to the BBC, the UK government has only evacuated diplomats and their families and encouraged its nationals in Sudan to stay in safer places until the situation is calm.

On the weekend, South Sudan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs said the government has not decided yet on the issue of evacuation from Sudan because the South Sudanese population is too big.

Deng Dau Deng said Juba has only adopted some measures to receive the returnees while coordinating with its embassy in Khartoum to engage the citizens on how to stay safe.

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