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Evacuations underway amid S. Sudan cease-fire

Updated: 2016-07-16 07:51
By Pan Zhongming and Fiona Guo in Nairobi (China Daily)

Evacuations underway amid S. Sudan cease-fire

PetroChina workers evacuated from South Sudan's Juba arrive in the Khartoum International Airport on Thursday. Li Ziheng / Xinhua

More than 210 Chinese have been evacuated from South Sudan since the cease-fire declared by President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar on Monday, after five days of clashes that left more than 300 dead, including two Chinese UN peacekeepers.

The evacuations began on Tuesday with planes reserved to pick up stranded Chinese, most of whom are employed by Chinese firms engaged in infrastructure, oil production and other service projects in South Sudan. On Tuesday, 50 Chinese, and on Wednesday 160 Chinese were taken to nearby countries such as Kenya and Uganda to catch connecting flights to China.

One-way air ticket prices soared to $1,000 per person, according to evacuees. Normally, round-trip tickets cost no more than $700.

The Great Wall Travel & Tourism, an airliner owned by an overseas Chinese, was involved in the evacuation.

Zhang Biao, 26, an employee of China Overseas Engineering Group Co, said he had planned to leave South Sudan capital city Juba on Sunday, but all business flights were suspended due to the large passenger demand. He waited until Wednesday to board a 50-passenger airplane and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, in the afternoon.

The Chinese embassy said it tried to maintain contacts with all Chinese in South Sudan during the fighting. About nine "temporary assembly points" were arranged across Juba to coordinate the evacuation.

As of Thursday, employees of Huawei, COVEC, China Railway No 10 Engineering Group, PetroChina, Beixin and Wuyi had been evacuated.

South Sudan has experienced civil conflicts since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. In December 2013, a civil war broke out between the government and opposition forces, lasting for 20 months.

An estimated 160 Chinese firms were doing business in South Sudan by June 2015. Approximately 1,000 Chinese - in addition to UN Peacekeeper troops - resided in South Sudan before the war broke out.

Contact the writers at panzhongming@chinadaily.com.cn

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