Kenya ups evacuations from South Sudan

December 23, 2013 4:59 pm
The government said many Kenyans are stranded in the UN compound in Bor. Photo/AFP
The government said many Kenyans are stranded in the UN compound in Bor. Photo/AFP

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23- The government says it will charter an extra plane to join the ongoing evacuation of Kenyans who have been caught up in the South Sudan skirmishes.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said on Monday that the extra flight will supplement those by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and will increase to three the number of daily flights into and out of Juba per day.

A number of buses will also be dispatched tomorrow to ferry more of the thousands of Kenyans who are stranded in the crisis-hit neighboring country.

“We will have two buffalos from KDF and an extra hired commercial flight and we will be able to evacuate at least 300 Kenyans from Juba tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said. “We do not have any Kenyan in the UN camp in Juba but we have roughly 1,600 Kenyans in the UN mission in Bor.”

The government said the biggest challenge is to evacuate those held up inside the UN camp in Bor as it is currently a no-go zone.

He, however, said the government was still pushing on with negotiations to not only be able to access them but also pursue normalcy in South Sudan.

Unlike earlier reports that there were 1,500 Kenyans stranded in South Sudan, the PS revealed that currently it was tricky to give the exact number, adding that most had gone without proper documentation.

He said an estimated 30,000 Kenyans live and work in South Sudan, with 10,000 having come back so far, a majority by road via the Uganda border.

“We may not have accurate numbers because of the immigration conditions that we have had. You find a lot of our people when they go to neighboring countries do not register with our missions. They just go doing their businesses,” Kibicho complained.

He however assured that the government will ensure that no more life is lost or people injured in the war hit young nation until everyone is evacuated.

Meanwhile, Kenya has so far received 200 non-Kenyans via Lokichogio border including seven Americans, one British and the rest Sudanese.

He said apart from the Sudanese, the rest of the nationals have since gone back to their countries.

“In Lokichogio we have infrastructure for refugee and because these people are running away from war, they are classified easily and then UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) takes over. But to make sure that they are not also overwhelmed, tomorrow we will be taking a whole plane load of food to assist,” he said.

So far KDF airlifts have taken 40,000 tonnes of food to the stranded Kenyans in South Sudan with 15,000 tonnes taken daily.

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