, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 21 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the Kenya Defence Forces to start the immediate evacuation of 1,600 Kenyans stranded in South Sudan.
The President said those stranded are mainly in the town of Bor, in Jonglei State.
“There are also Kenyans in the towns of Rumbek, Ayod, and Panyabol, who will also be airlifted to safety,” he said.
President Kenyatta also directed the delivery of food, water and medicines to South Sudan to assist tackle the emergency caused by recent fighting. The delivery of emergency supplies started on Saturday morning using military aircraft.
He said Kenya will remain engaged with the government of South Sudan as well as other players in the conflict, to seek restoration of normalcy to the country.
A ministerial delegation from IGAD is already in Juba and has started mediation between the parties involved. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is on the team.
“The government has sent additional mediators to help with the dialogue who include General (Rtd) Elijah Sumbeiywo, Amb. Bethwel Kiplagat, Reverend Julius Kobia, former Cabinet Secretary Dalmas Otieno, Amb. Elijah Matibo and Mark Too,” the president said.
As the mediation talks and evacuation efforts continue, the President said Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry is keeping a close eye on the events in South Sudan and will keep Kenyans and friends of Kenya fully informed.
Fighting started last Sunday between army units loyal to South Sudan’s President Salvar Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called on the leaders in South Sudan to come together and dialogue and help end the fighting which has claimed close to 500 lives and left hundreds injured.
“I want to appeal to our friends in this conflict to rethink their actions, to search deep into their hearts and conscience and ask whether the people of South Sudan really deserve what they are going through. The people of South Sudan must not shed a drop of blood again, fighting each other,” Odinga regretted.
He has also urged the international community to intervene and help bring complete peace in the youngest nation.
The US has sent a special envoy to South Sudan to help foster dialogue between opposing factions in the violence.