Nearly 20,000 South Sudanese still stranded in Upper Nile: IOM.
The the front view of the ship carrying returnees from Sudan, August 22, 2012 (ST)
Despite this, however, the organisation says it organized a convoy of river barges carrying 1000 returnees, which departed Sunday from Renk in Upper Nile on a two-week journey to the capital, Juba. "The river convoy, consisting of two passenger and two luggage barges, was the first to depart from Renk this year," Jumbe Omari Jumbe, the IOM spokesperson told a United Nations briefing Monday. IOM medical staff, he said, screened returnees travelling on the barges 72 hours prior to departure to check if they were fit to travel and prevent the spread of communicable diseases. "Children under the age of five were also vaccinated," Jumbe further said, adding that IOM medical teams escorted the barges throughout the journey to guarantee their safety. The IOM spokesperson, however, expressed concerns that the two Sudans had not yet finalised the implementation of the four freedom agreement, which both countries reached in September last year. The agreement, signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia would allow Sudanese persons to live and potentially gain citizenship, if they wished to live in South Sudan, and vice versa. Meanwhile, IOM says that it has helped at least 40,000 people return to the south from Sudan since 2011, when the country split into two after southerners voted for secession. The organisation has since 2007 reportedly registered up to 1.9 million South Sudanese returnees. (ST)
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