Humanitarian flights grounded for Juba ceremonies

South Sudanese authorities have ordered the Juba Airport closed tomorrow, grounding humanitarian flights.

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the independence of South Sudan. The order to close the airport will allow visiting dignitaries to make unhindered use of the airport. 

Humanitarian agencies in South Sudan rely on airline charter companies, the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), or the Mission Aviation Fellowship to reach remote areas.

Other aid groups have their own aircraft, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. Most air operators use Juba as their main hub. 

Although 9 July is normally a work holiday, this year UNHAS had planned to operate a full flight schedule, owing to the pressing humanitarian crisis.

Their flights instead will be grounded.

South Sudan’s government has prepared for 9 July by erecting posters with Salva Kiir’s face to be seen along the road leading to the John Garang Mausoleum, where the Independence Day ceremonies are to take place. 

It is expected that the presidents of Uganda and Kenya will attend the event tomorrow, whereas the prime minister of Ethiopia and president of Sudan have yet to confirm their attendance.

File photo