1 500 South Sudanese to head home

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REUTERS

A woman from Dinka Ngok tribe prepares food in a cattle herders' camp near the town of Abyei. 1 500 ethnic South Sudanese are to return to their ancestral homeland from Khartoum area squatter camps.

Khartoum - In the first such transfer in about a year, 1 500 ethnic South Sudanese are to return to their ancestral homeland from Khartoum area squatter camps on Saturday, the International Organisation for Migration said.

“They want to go home,” Mario Lito Malanca, IOM's chief of mission in Sudan, told AFP.

The group leaving for South Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal state are among almost 20 000 who the IOM says have been “stranded” in Khartoum for more than two years.

Almost every single one of them wants to go South, an IOM survey found.

Without money to travel themselves, many live in the open where cloth bags wrapped around metal crates, beds and other possessions provide crude shelters, in conditions which the UN has called “appalling.”

South Sudanese have been classed as foreigners in Sudan since April last year, restricting their access to employment and services following the independence of South Sudan in July 2011.

Millions of Southerners fled to the north during a 22-year civil war which ended in a 2005 peace deal that paved the way for South Sudan's independence following a referendum.

About 1.8 million southerners have gone back to South Sudan since 2007, says the IOM, which in 2011 and 2012 transported more than 39 000 South Sudanese from the north.

Sapa-AFP


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