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Kenya advises its nationals against travelling to conflict areas in South Sudan

Captain Pius Frank Njoroge (R) and his co-pilot Kennedy Shamalla (L) at Wilson Airport, Nairobi, on February 20, 2018. (Photo Ebru website)
February 21, 2018 (JUBA) — The Kenyan foreign ministry Wednesday advised its nationals against travel to several areas in the troubled South Sudan after the release of two pilots held in rebel areas for more than six weeks.

The rare travel advisory comes after the arrest of two Kenyan pilots on 7 January 2018 when their aircraft crashed in the SPLM-IO-controlled Akobo, South Sudan. The nine passengers and the crew exited safely from the plane but a woman was killed and properties of some local residents had been destroyed as the result of the incident.

"Kenyan nationals living or travelling to South Sudan to move away from and avoid travelling to areas where armed conflicts and inter-ethnic violence have occurred within the last six months," said a statement issued by the new Kenyan foreign minister Monica Juma.

The warning statement has advised against travel to parts of the Greater Upper Nile Region and particularly Bieh, Latjoor, Akobo, Jonglei states. Also, it mentioned Northern Liech and parts of Maiwut, Eastern Nile, Boma, and Yei River states.

"Kenyan nationals in other parts of the country are advised to exercise extreme caution as they undertake their daily activities," the minister further said.

On Tuesday, Minister Juma received the two Kenyan pilots after their arrival to Nairobi’s Wilson airport.

In a statement published on the website of the Kenyan foreign ministry condemned their detention by the SPLM-IO.

"The Government of the Republic of Kenya deplores the unfriendly and inhumane response of the SPLM-IO. to what was an unfortunate accident. We condemn the capture and detention of our Kenyan pilots in the strongest possible terms," she said.

The two pilots were released on Monday after the payment of 107,743 U.S. dollars.

The SPLM-IO deputy spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel distanced themselves from the capture of the two pilots, also he stressed that the release was negotiated the affected families and the Kenyan company.

The foreign minister thanked the United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) pointing to their role in securing the extraction of the pilots from Akobo.

Thousands of Kenyan nationals are working in the different parts of South Sudan.