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On December 17, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Embassy personnel from Juba, South Sudan, after an attemted coup attracted the wrath of Gen Salva Kiir, with over 63 people killed and dozens of government officiasls arrested.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba said it would be assisting U.S. citizens who wish to depart Juba.
“U.S. citizens should review their personal security situation and consider taking advantage of planned flights arranged by the Department of State, as the embassy is able to provide only limited emergency consular services,” the statement from the Juba mission, reads in part.
“Citizens who wish to take advantage of flights arranged by the Department of State should arrive at the Juba Airport no later than 10:30 this morning, December 18.”
The Embassy also clarified that private U.S. citizens will need to arrange their own transport to the airport and should consider personal safety of that travel in doing so and that assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible U.S. citizens.
The Juba Airport was reopened on Tuesday but the safety of the aircrafts amidst the flaring tensions in the volatile country remains a matter of concern.
The U.S. Department of State is expected to arrange for additional transportation as necessary to accommodate demand, and taking into account security conditions.
“Please be aware that each traveler is limited to one suitcase, and pets cannot be accommodated. All travelers must have travel documentation,” the brief added.
“Departure assistance is provided on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable. This means that you will be asked to sign a form promising to repay the U.S. government. We charge you the equivalent of a full coach fare on commercial air at the time that commercial options cease to be a viable option, and you will be required to sign a promissory note for this amount and to pay this fare at a later date.
You will be taken to a safe haven country, from which the traveler will need to make his or her own onward travel arrangements. If you are destitute, and private resources are not available to cover the cost of onward travel, you may be eligible for emergency financial assistance. Please also be aware that there is a limit of one suitcase per person.”
The decision by the U.S to fly out its citizens is a reminder to other states to step up preparations to evacuate their citizens.
Already, two Ugandans have been shot dead in the conflict.
Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Fred Opolot said Kampala is assessing the situation and that an escalation in the violence would lead to the evacuation of thousands of Ugandans from South Sudan.
While the fighting has temporarily come to a halt, military forces are pursuing sacked Vice President, Riek Machar who is feared to be forging alliances with other groups opposed to Kiir’s government to start a fully-fledged war.