South Sudan mulls students evacuation from embattled Ethiopia

South Sudan mulls students evacuation from embattled Ethiopia
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau Deng (photo credit: courtesy)

The displaced South Sudanese students sheltering at the South Sudan embassy in Addis Ababa are expected to be repatriated back home soon.

At least 59 students, mainly from Bahir Dar and Gondar universities in the Ethiopian wartorn region of Amhara, on Wednesday, sought refuge at the South Sudan Embassy in Addis Ababa for protection after the universities were closed due to an armed confrontation between the Ethiopian army and the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF is a secessionist group that has been championing the secession of the Tigray region from Ethiopia.

Speaking to The City Review yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau Deng, said the students are still in Addis Ababa but there is an underway plan to repatriate them back to Juba soon.

“The issue of the feeding is what we have been talking about. We want to bring them to Juba because we don’t have the resources to accommodate them in Addis Ababa. Hopefully, they will come very soon, ” Deng said.

However, Deng said the repatriation of the students is on a voluntary basis based on the fact that some of the students may wish to remain in Addis Ababa.

 “It is upon the students. If they feel they want to come, the government will facilitate bringing them, ” he said.

On Tuesday, the South Sudanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, James Morgan, said the students were evacuated to Addis Ababa after their universities were closed and they were the only students left at the campus.

   “The issue of feeding is not a concern now, we just want to take them back home. “The best way is for the students to come back home to Juba, and they should stay home until the universities are open again,” Morgan told Radio Miraya on the breakfast show from Addis.

 “Let our people in South Sudan not panic. There is no problem. The situation is normal at the universities, but they are not functioning. That is why the students asked to go home,” he said.

The conflict

The war in Ethiopia intensified with the TPLF soldiers making headway to seize the Amhara and Afar regions, which border Tigray.

Earlier this week, reports emerged that rebel soldiers were plotting to storm the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. This triggered a mass exodus from Addis, with both expatriates and citizens fleeing the country due to conflicts.

Yesterday, the spokesperson of the Ethiopian foreign affairs ministry, Dina Mufti, gave out the conditions for engaging the TPLF in talks.  

“There are conditions: First, stop your attacks. Secondly, leave the areas you have entered (Amhara and Afar). Third, recognise the legitimacy of this government, ” AFP quoted Mufti as saying.

“By the way, don’t misunderstand, it’s not being said a decision has been made to enter into negotiations, ” he added.