Returnees in Kosti begin journey south

8 Mar 2011

Returnees in Kosti begin journey south

5 March 2011 – Some 2,890 of the almost 6,000 returnees stranded in Kosti, White Nile State, for nearly two months due to lack of transport left today by barge for the south.

The returnees, who began arriving at the port of Kosti from Khartoum in January, were travelling to Kaka, Kodok and Malakal, Upper Nile State.

The returns are led by the Southern Sudan Relief and Recovery Commission (SSRC), which is responsible for returnees and returns via barge, with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM is providing financial support, assisting with manifesting for the barges and medically screening returnees to determine their fitness to travel.

"We appreciate the response of the UN agencies, particularly the IOM," said SSRRC Head of Repatriation in North Sudan Gatwech Kulang from his Khartoum office. "The returnees have been in Kosti for a long time."

Another group of about 2,700 returnees will soon be traveling by barge to Juba or ports before (Bor, Shambe, Adok), according to Mr. Kulang. "They are now loading materials and doing their medical screening. They will possibly be leaving this Thursday."

Three returnees from the Malakal group were discovered to have tuberculosis, said IOM Return Sector Co-lead Claire Bolt. "Their trip has been postponed until further medical examinations can be arranged and confirmation that a hospital in Kodok is ready to receive them."

She noted that returnees received three meals per day and drinking water (two litres per person per day) on the barge, which was equipped with showers and latrines, and that a medical team was accompanying them on their journey.