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Airlifting of returnees from Khartoum starts on Sunday

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The airlifting of southerners still in Khartoum is expected to start on Sunday according to the Sudanese Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Gutierrez announced the airlifting of returnees in a press conference in Khartoum recently after a visit to Sudan and South Sudan.

Gutierrez said there are about 700,000 southerners in Sudan and the airlifting option was to speed up the repatriation process.

The Directorate of Sudan's National Center for the Displaced and Voluntary repatriation said about 300 persons will be airlifted from Khartoum to Aweil and Wau in South Sudan.

According to the directorate, priorities for airlifting returnees are given for the elderly, children and women, adding that 4,000 southerners will be repatriated by train to South Sudan in the few weeks.

Khartoum recently set a deadline of 8th April 2012 for the southerners still in Sudan to decide their fate if they want to be Sudanese or South Sudanese.