Discuss as:

US missionary family plan $6,800 rescue of orphans from South Sudan

Ben Curtis / AP

Kim Campbell at the United Nations camp on Dec. 30 before she was forced to leave 10 orphans who were in her care.

An American family who fled an orphanage they set up in South Sudan because of the outbreak of fighting there, are planning to spend $6,800 on a private plane to fly back into the violence-ravaged nation to rescue 10 orphans who were in their care.

The Campbells' plan comes after the United Nations said Friday that looters had stolen 3,700 tons of food, enough to feed 220,000 people for a month, from the refugee camp where the orphans are staying.

"[The family] agreed with the Red Cross on a price of $6,800 to get a plane to Malakal," said Freddie Power, president of the North Carolina-based Keeping Hope Alive ministry which is helping the family.

"They need to get to the children because they are running out of food. They are absolutely broken and very stressed."

Brad and Kim Campbell and their two American daughters sold their home in Omaha, Neb., to set up the orphanage in the city of Malakal in 2012. They fled amid fighting on Christmas Day and made it to a refugee camp.

They tried unsuccessfully for 10 days to get travel documents for the orphans, before flying to Nairobi, Kenya, where they are staying.

The family had initially tried to secure a safe passage out of the country for the orphans. This plan was thwarted when the permit office they needed to go to file the proper paperwork was bombed and looted of its computers.

They then turned to the local governor. But he starkly informed them that, as the orphans were South Sudanese, they would be dealt with by South Sudanese officials. The governor told them the orphans would not be allowed to move to another peaceful part of the country, let alone aboard.

There are flights from Nairobi to the South Sudanese capital Juba, but flights to Malakal are hard to come by for civilians.

Power said there was no guarantee, even if they got there, that the Campbells would not again run into difficulties with travel documents.

"It's madness, people are dying everywhere and authorities are worrying about 10 children," Power said.

Government and rebel leaders signed a ceasefire Thursday, but diplomats fear the violence which has left unknown thousands dead and 500,000 displaced may be hard to overcome.