Evacuations underway from South Sudan to Uganda


(Posted 19th December 2013)

Late yesterday did hundreds of evacuees arrived in Kampala after making the long journey by bus out of a South Sudan in upheaval, crossing the border to safety in Nimule and then travelling via Gulu to the Ugandan capital.

Earlier in the day did Air Uganda according to reports received operate three flights to Juba to uplift stranded passengers, as no airline was allowed to fly into South Sudan’s main international airport from Monday until today.

While the flights back to Entebbe were entirely sold out, flights into Juba were literally empty, showing the concern regular business travellers now have to enter South Sudan.

While in the past, ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, there was always a regular exodus of expatriates leaving Juba to enjoy the holidays in the Ugandan or Kenyan national parks, the beaches of Uganda’s islands on Lake Victoria or the beaches of Mombasa, this year the exodus is entirely due to the sustained fighting for control in South Sudan. More and more political commentators, besides the main tenor on the social media landscapes, now share this correspondent’s opinion that there never was a coup attempt but that this was a staged development in order to carry out a bloody purge of political opponents and other tribes thought hostile towards the president’s tribe. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in recent days in Juba and fighting has now spread to other towns across South Sudan like Bor and Torit, where opponents of the regime in Juba have gained the upper hand, opening the door to a potentially fully fledged civil war based mainly along tribal lines.

Kenya Airways and RwandAir have confirmed that they will tomorrow operate as normal, with Kenya Airways leaving open the option of putting up one or more additional flights, as according to Kenya’s foreign ministry some 25.000 Kenyans now live and work across South Sudan and many of whom now just want to get out of the South Sudan and home as fast as they can, while they can.

Ugandan bus operators are meanwhile trying to ferry out as many people as they can, with some picking up travellers at the border with South Sudan at Nimule, while others made the dangerous journey deeper into South Sudan. Embassies in South Sudan have also made direct arrangements for their citizens to leave for the safe havens of Uganda or else fly to Nairobi or Kigali on available flights. Watch this space for more updates as and when new information has become available.

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