18 December 2013

Kenyans Evacuated From Juba On Buses

Photo: George Mindruta/UN
Civilians arriving at the UN House compound in the southwestern outskirts of Juba, seeking protection from recent fighting in the capital.

Nairobi — Fifteen buses carrying Kenyans, Ugandans and a mix of other nationalities, fleeing the volatile situation in South Sudan have crossed into Uganda.

Two of the 15 buses were ferrying Kenyans only, while the remaining 13 had a combination of various nationalities including Kenyans.

Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed said that the buses left Juba on Wednesday morning and were scheduled to arrive in Kampala later in the day.

She told journalists at a press conference that the Kenyans would be received by the Kenyan High Commission in the Ugandan capital, which would later facilitate their return back home.

"Six others could be on the way out but the airport is open and we should not have any problems facilitating the travels of Kenyans out of South Sudan," she explained on Wednesday.

Mohamed however added that it was only those Kenyans who were willing to be repatriated would get this assistance while those willing to stay would be allowed to do so.

She explained that some Kenyans could be unwilling to abandon their businesses following the relative calm that has returned.

"But as the situation returns to normal you'll find that many Kenyans will not want to come back and might want to continue with their businesses in South Sudan," she observed.

She at the same time expressed concern over the fate of 57 other Kenyans who she said were still holed up at the United Nations (UN) headquarters situated in Bor district.

Mohamed explained that Kenya was negotiating for their safe release and would hopefully secure them in due course.

According to the government, there are about 25,000 Kenyans living and working in South Sudan and most of them do so in Juba and Jongeli's Bor district.

"We are working with the UN first of all to ensure that they are safe and second to see how to transport them home from Bor. In Jonglei State we have about 800 Kenyans and so you can see that we have a considerable number of Kenyans in South Sudan," said Mohamed.

She further revealed that only four Kenyans were injured clash between rival army factions, which the UN says has claimed 500 lives and left 800 others wounded.

Mohamed explained that the Kenyans had been treated and discharged from hospitals and that three of them were on the buses heading to Kampala.

"We were mostly concerned about Juba and Bor but can account for all our compatriots who live in these areas," she said.

She also urged the South Sudan government to speed up its conflict resolution so as to ensure that normalcy returns as quickly as possible.

Kenya Airways said it would resume flights to and from Juba on Thursday.

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