The Sudan People's Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) has released two Kenyan pilots detained since January 9, according to an SPLA-IO spokesperson on Monday, February 19. The pilots were initially taken into custody after their plane made an emergency landing in Akobo (Greater Upper Nile region) that killed one local person; SPLA-IO forces reportedly released the pilots after Kenyan authorities paid USD 107,700 (KES 10.9 million) in compensation to the family of the person killed and to people who lost livestock.
According to the UN, the pilots were being held in South Sudan's Akobo area. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing after suffering a mechanical failure. Both pilots and nine passengers suffered minor injuries in the landing. A local woman and 11 cattle were also killed in the incident.
On February 11, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) had called for Kenyan flight operators to suspend all commercial and chartered flights to the region of South Sudan formerly known as Upper Nile state until the two detained Kenyan pilots were released by the SPLA-IO and the security of other Kenyan pilots flying in the state was assured. The union has not released any official statement regarding the status of Kenyan flights to the former Upper Nile state since the pilots' release.
Travelers flying from Kenya to South Sudan are advised to monitor the situation and confirm flight reservations.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan. Certain regions should be particularly avoided, including the states of Unity and Upper Nile, the north of Warrap state, parts of Eastern and Central Equatoria states, and areas along the border with the Central African Republic, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If travel is necessary, ensure that proper security protocols are in place.
Copyright and Disclaimer