“With today’s flight, carrying around a hundred displaced, we managed to transfer some 12,000 people from the North to South Sudan in less than a month”, said to MISNA, Jill Helke, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Sudan, which over the past weeks organized 79 flights from Khartoum to Juba.
The airlift began three weeks ago to resolve an emergency in the town of Kosti, around 300km south of the capital, where thousands of South Sudanese blocked by the closing of the borders were declared “a security threat” by the local governor and asked to leave by the start of May.
Ahead of South Sudan’s independence in July, the idea was to allow South Sudanese in the North and vice versa to make their presence in the neighbouring nation legal. But political and military tension between the two caused this plan to fail.
“Sionce then, the two governments introduced contrasting legislations in regard”, said Helke, explaining that “while to obtain South Sudanese citizenship it is enough to have an ancestor, even three generations removed, born in the southern regions, in the north a person with mixed parents, who are many, is considered a foreigner”.
Based on United Nations estimates, there are still some 350,000 South Sudanese in the North, where they have spent most of their lives due to decades of civil war in the South.
A lot will depend on the outcome of negotiations between Juba and Khartoum, aimed at resolving outstanding issues and avoiding a new conflict.
“We are aware that the transfer of as many people as possible from one side of the border to the other is a good result, but it is not enough. There must be a political solution”, concluded Helke