IOM and the Southern Sudanese Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) have completed the return of more than 7,000 Southern Sudanese from the north to their homes in Southern Sudan.
Two IOM convoys of 13 barges each have provided return assistance to men, women and children who remained stranded more than three months at the river port of Kosti on their way to Malakal and Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.
The returnees had been living in overcrowded conditions in Kosti river port after a pause in their transportation via barges, trains and buses, arranged by the SSRRC.
The returnees are Southern Sudanese who wanted to return to their homes in the South from the capital Khartoum and other locations in the north, in the wake of the referendum held in January, 2011.
The first convoy carrying 2,988 people arrived in the Upper Nile capital Malakal in early March.
A second convoy of 11 barges destined for Juba left Kosti on 16 March with more than 4,000 returnees on board. To date, seven barges transporting more than 3,000 returnees have already arrived in Juba. The remaining four barges are expected to sail in Juba later this month.
Special funding for this return operation was made available through the Common Humanitarian Fund administered by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.
As well as supporting the SSRRC to conduct the return, IOM will be providing onward transportation assistance to help returnees reach their places of final destination.
"We are happy that these barges have reached their final destinations safely and the returnees can start their new lives in the South," says Gerry Waite, IOM's Head of Juba Office in Southern Sudan. "We believe it was important to respond to the call to reduce the critically high numbers of Southerners who were stranded at the Kosti. While IOM will continue its activities to support returnees within the South, we do not plan or have funding for any further organized assisted return operations of this sort from the North," he concludes.
For further information, please contact Jill Helke, IOM Sudan, Tel: +249 183 570 802/4; Email: email@example.com Copyright © IOM. All rights reserved.