South Sudanese find their way home slow going

Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:07pm EDT
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By Ulf Laessing

KOSTI, Sudan (Reuters) - Four months after Paula Lodo left her Khartoum slum to head back to South Sudan, she finds herself in yet another makeshift home south of the Sudanese capital.

"I am stuck on the way home for four months, can you believe this?" Lodo said, sitting with her six daughters in a dusty tent camp near this northern White Nile city.

Like tens of thousands of other southerners, Lodo packed up and left Khartoum in anticipation of the coming split between Sudan and South Sudan, catching a truck to Kosti to continue southwards by barge.

But the barge to bring her home never showed up and she is now stranded with 17,000 others in a camp originally built for 1,200. Heavy rain has created a large pool in the middle of the facility, filled with garbage and attracting scores of flies.

Lodo has put up a tent made from the same plastic sheets, blankets and wood branches used to build her home in Khartoum where she lived for 32 years after fleeing the civil war.

"We were promised boats to continue but we are still here. I don't know why. It's very bad," Lodo said, seeking relief from the scorching sun under the shade of a large tree.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 342,000 people have made the move southward since October, a few months before the independence referendum in January set July 9 as the date when South Sudan would become independent.

Khartoum has given the more than one million southerners who still live in the predominantly Muslim north until spring to either leave or get residency and work permits -- a complicated process.   Continued...

<p>Workers carry goods to be loaded onto barges at the Nile port of Kosti, in White Nile State, in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Files</p>