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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
January 30, 2010 5:26 am
Published in: Uncategorized

I just spent the last three days flying in Sudan. Wednesday I flew up to Lokichogio on the DC-3. We arrived at the hangar at 5:30 to load 2 tons of cargo onto the plane, taxi to customs and pick up our passengers. We have an agreement with the security office at Wilson that allows us to load at the hangar. The new security officer on duty that morning hadn’t gotten that information, and required us to unload the plane and run all 2 tons of cargo through the scanner. We completely blocked the security scanner for about 45 minutes while we were doing this. Meanwhile the DC-3 is big enough that it takes up three of the four parking places in front of security. So…we got our workout Wed. morning. Load 2 tons, unload 2 tons, reload 2 tons. Good thing I had a good breakfast.

At Loki, I was getting ready to load my passengers to fly to Torit, Sudan, and then on to Yei to pick up four people and take them to Juba, where I’d spend 2 nights and fly the folks back to Yei, then back through Torit to pick the two people I’d dropped there to return to Lokichogio. I was getting the passengers in the plane when my phone rang. It’s the folks in Yei. “We don’t need you…we’re going by road. We’ll call tomorrow to let you know if we need you on Friday.” Hmmm. Scramble scramble scramble. The folks I’m dropping in Torit are all joiners to the flight, essentially standby, and now the flight is cancelled. Our lead scheduler, Lydia, comes up with a brilliant solution (typical of her, actually, she is just amazing) where I take them to Torit, stay the two nights with Phil and Linda Byler, and then either continue to Juba on Friday or bring the guys back to Loki on Friday from Torit. Fixed, costs of the operation covered and maybe I don’t have to go to Juba.

Prayers that night with the Bylers, I mentioned “thanks, Lord, for the Bylers’ hospitality on such short notice.” Linda later told me she was surprised. “We knew you were coming an hour before you arrived. That was plenty of time.”

Thursday the folks from Yei call and say then do want the pickup in Juba to return to Yei. We’re to meet at 8:30. So, Friday morning it’s off to Juba. My passengers arrive and we start the gyrations required to get through security and out to the airplane. Two of them are long time missionaries and everything is in order, they just need an airport exit stamp ($45 each if you please) and all is well. The two young women there, visiting don’t have their SPLA passes (Sudan visas basically) and are essentially in the country illegally. Security detains them and the circus begins.

Phil Byler put me in contact with Clerot, an AIC pastor in Juba. Clerot was willing to come to the airport and help straighten things out. Samaritan’s Purse was also willing to help and their guys came to the airport as well. By now it’s two hours later. Clerot arrives and goes to talk to the security guys. He’s very humble, very well spoken and in a rather short time has everything smoothed over. The security officer settles for scaring the living daylights out of the young ladies and then releases them. Off we go to Yei.

As we’re boarding the airplane I and the other two missionaries lecture the young ladies again. ” You can’t just hop around willy nilly here. You have to know what you’re doing and have the documents. And you’re lucky we didn’t leave you…because we were about to! Samaritan’s Purse was willing to help you once security let you go, but we could do no more with security.” I hope they’re still scared.

So…AIM Air saves the day. Well, not really. Clerot of the AIC saves the day. And I finally get out of Juba.

African officials (rightly) get defensive when people ignore the rules and try to push through anyway. The official in Sudan asked several times “Can I go to America without a visa?” Of course not. Nor should we expect to go through Sudan or Kenya or wherever without one. The difference in AIM Air’s issue Wed morning with the DC-3 and the security official was that we do have a properly worked out agreement with security at Wilson to do what we do. They come and inspect the cargo either the day before the flight or the day of it (they’d come the day before in this case) and then we load, and that way we don’t tie up the ramp and the scanner for hours. The new guy didn’t know this. So next week we’ll go to security and work through it all over again. The two girls didn’t know, didn’t find out before they came, didn’t listen to what other missionaries told them….and are very lucky that God is merciful and got them out of a spot.

One Response to “Airport Security, Kenya, and Sudan”

  1. Athiya Says:

    I was in Miridi in 2008 working at the National Training Center and liinvg in the abandoned ZOA refugee camp with two Indian police advisors. The UN Observer team was located directly behind us and served as a security blanket should the LRA come up from the south. I just completed a one-year tour in Afghanistan with USAID liinvg at a police station in delaram District Nimroz province with 25 Marines, 30 ANP and the district governor. I faced some of the same challenges especially the eletrification issue. I am interested in returning to South Sudan to assist in the reconstruction and economic development. The CRC appeared to be an avenue but I found out that the reserve is only for current government employees. How do I proceed as I feel very strongly about assisting the South Sudanese. I did a tour in Iraq in 2007 with DoD so I am comfortable in kinetic and post-kinetic environments .

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