Sudan extends deadline for southerners
Sudan on Thursday extended a deadline for the return of thousands of South Sudanese to their country until May 20, a government news agency reported.
The Sudan Media Centre said there are up to 15 000 South Sudanese stranded in Sudan's White Nile State along the border of the two feuding neighbours.
Khartoum's decision came after the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said this month that it cannot meet an earlier deadline for South Sudanese to leave the north.
IOM's spokesperson Jean-Philippe Chauzy said on Tuesday in Geneva that thousands of South Sudanese lack the means to get home and that the international community “does not have the logistical capacity to move them all out” by the May 5 deadline.
Millions of southerners fled to northern Sudan during the 22-year war that led to South Sudan's independence last July, and many were stranded in the north after independence was declared. Khartoum has decided that all southerners - an estimated 500 000 - must either regularise their status or depart for the south.
Many southerners say privately that they hope to stay in the north - some were born or have lived for decades in Khartoum, and say they feel cut off from the south's traditional tribal society.
Since the war broke out in 1983, hundreds of thousands of people have moved in both directions.
The IOM says that in 2011, it helped 23 000 South Sudanese residing in Sudan to return home by barge, train and air. The organisation also assisted 16 500 others to depart South Sudan for various locations.