People Desperate to Leave Yei Camping at Airstrip

Yei River
Yei River

By Radio Tamazuj:

Yei airstrip has become a waiting camp as the mass exodus of civilians from Yei toward Juba and Uganda continues after a spike in violence since July.

Witnesses described to Radio Tamazuj a scene of desperation as civilians seek a place on one of the small private aircraft that come and go several times a day to Yei.

“If you go to Yei airstrip now, you will judge for yourself that many people are leaving Yei town over reasons of insecurity and food shortage in the area. Many of the passengers are sleeping at the airfield waiting for planes to evacuate them,” said one witness.

A would-be passenger said Thursday that he came to the airstrip with his family one week back waiting for a plane to take his family to Juba.

“I came here since last week and worried waiting for a plane, all planes landing have been booked by many other people and we have temporarily put up a tent to sleep and for ourselves some food as we wait for another plane to take us out from here,” the waiting passenger said.

Another eyewitness said planes are landing several times a day with many people struggling to enter into the small planes. The source also said that the airstrip is currently being controlled and directed by the military with no aircraft control specialist.

“You cannot believe that people these days don’t fear plane crash, if you enter the plane, you will see that children are packed under the seats, while women, elderly and adults are pushed into the luggage section while others are struggling to climb on top of the plane and others struggling to hang themselves on the wheels of the plane. I am already seeing a danger of likely plane crash in Yei,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Minster of Physical Infrastructure Jacob Aligo warned of poor conditions of the airstrip: “The airstrip is not in good shape, there are bumps and it will pose a danger to the aircrafts and the passengers. We have consulted a local construction company to grade the airstrip including the runway and the parking spaces for their aircrafts.”

This article was provided courtesy of Radio Tamazuj, a daily news service and current affairs broadcaster covering South Sudan, the southern states of Sudan, and the borderlands between the two countries.

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