‘Thousands of Sudanese want to go home’

Sudanese officials say that over 3,000 of their nationals living in South Sudan have expressed the desire to be evacuated following bitter fighting in that country’s capital, Juba, which has claimed hundreds of lives.

Although the fighting has died down following a ceasefire called by President Salva Kiir and his rival, First Vice-President Riek Machar, thousands of Southern Sudanese, fearing further escalation, have started moving toward the northern neighbour. This could be an indication that situation is still fragile and menacing, especially for civilians.

The ceasefire in crisis-gripped South Sudanese capital, Juba, appears to be “largely holding, barring sporadic gunfire,” the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has reported.

International organizations and NGOs operating in South Sudan, including the UN and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), had warned that tension had been rising in South Sudan over the last few months. Renewed fighting in Wau town has also displaced an estimated 83,000 people, during the last fortnight.

The NRC which has been operating in South Sudan since 2004, announced that at least 36,000 people had been displaced in Juba during the current fighting. According to NRC more than 300 people are believed to have been killed in the latest fighting.

At least 36,000 civilians have been fleeing areas within Juba, according to the UN, and many have searched for security at UN compounds, relief agencies and inside churches. NRC, like other relief agencies, has had to halt its relief work.

According to relief and charity organizations operating in South Sudan, 6 million people, more than half of the country’s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Sudanese official sources also said there are at least 50,000 Sudanese nationals in South Sudan, mostly working in trade and other economic sectors.