18 December 2013

Sudan: Exodus Expats South Sudan Started After Quiet Night in Juba

Buses evacuating Kenyans from Juba to Uganda.

Juba — The first expatriates have left Juba by plane on Wednesday morning after several days of unrest. The night was relative calm with few random shootings reported. Some soldiers were roaming around in the city in Tong Ping, Hai Malakal and Hai Cinema. The clashes between rivalling soldiers within the presidential guards had ceased since Tuesday afternoon.

The US embassy in Juba advised all Americans to "depart immediately". The Kenyan and several other European embassies have started registering people on Tuesday to organize the repatriation.

The US State Department announced on Tuesday that "non-emergency U.S. government personnel have been ordered by the department to leave South Sudan. On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in South Sudan will provide evacuation options". The US announced suspending normal operations at its embassy in South Sudan in the face of "ongoing political and social unrest."

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Juba is 'extremely tense'. Security Council president Gerard Araud, France's UN ambassador, would not confirm the estimates of Ladsous that between 400 to 500 bodies had been taken to hospitals in Juba.

"There is a heavy toll, it is obvious, but precise figures are not yet available" Araud said. "There are dozens and scores of casualties, it is really not a minor incident". The UN fears that clashes will occur in other areas of South Sudan.

Losing faith in expats

The Dutch University researcher on Aid and Disaster management, Bram Jansen, currently in Juba waiting for his exit said on Wednesday morning he is wondering how the South Sudanese population looks upon the exodus.

"All my contacts tell me that they are wondering where the UN is on the street. They have actually not seen any blue-helmets. Now the aid workers are leaving while the hospital in Juba is understaffed and have little means to help the patients", says Jansen, who himself is on the way out from South Sudan on the first flight he can catch.

He adds: "If an international community declares to solidarity to the local population of South Sudan, it is a bit shameful that they remain behind walls of their compounds during the conflict, while they are wearing bullet proof jackets and helmets. It means that the people of South Sudan have lost any confidence in the UN being able to help them to protect".

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