This operation, undertaken jointly with the Government of National Unity, the Government of South Sudan, and UN partners is the first barge operation ever organized to return IDPs from North to South Sudan. The barge departure was witnessed by Brunson McKinley, IOM Director General and by senior government and UN officials.
The barge is scheduled to make a first stop in Shambe in Lakes State to disembark 255 IDPs persons before sailing further south towards Bor, in Jonglei State.
The group was medically screened and vaccinated prior to departure in one of the three centres established by IOM in Khartoum. The IDPs were then transported by road to a way station in Kosti, which is jointly run by IOM, the Fellowship for African Relief (FAR) and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Upon arrival in the ports of Shambe and Bor, the IDPs will be taken by truck to selected drop off points, where they will be welcomed by community members and representatives of local authorities. Each family will receive a 3-month food ration from World Food Programme (WFP) in addition to the non-food items (NFIs) such as plastic sheets, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans and soaps donated by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Joint Logistics Centre.
This first IDP group is accompanied by more than 30 IOM support staff, including medical staff and six cooks who will prepare two hot meals a day for the returnees.
Due to the onset of heavy rains, returns by land have come to a halt and are not scheduled to resume until October.
"Travel by river remains a workable option for those wish to return home to South Sudan during the rainy season," says Mario Tavolaj, IOM's Chief of Mission in Khartoum. "Over the next seven weeks, IOM intends to complete six barge rotations between Kosti and key towns along the River Nile in South Sudan."
Air operations from Khartoum to the South to transport another 1,500 vulnerable displaced are scheduled to start on 10 July 2007.
Since February, IOM and its partners have assisted more than 42,000 IDPs to return home in South Sudan, South Kordofan State and Blue Nile State.
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