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Washington, D.C. -- Refugees International (RI) is very disturbed by the Sudanese government’s plan to round up and deport hundreds of thousands of former citizens on account of their ties to the now independent South Sudan. The proposal would take effect on April 9, Khartoum's stated deadline for these individuals to either acquire a new nationality or leave the country. It would affect roughly 700,000 people who previously held Sudanese citizenship, but were denationalized en masse by Khartoum when South Sudan gained independence.
United Nations agencies in Khartoum have asked the Sudanese government to further explain this proposal, but so far their requests have been met with silence.
“This proposal is intolerable, and flies in the face of international law,” said Sarnata Reynolds, RI’s Statelessness Program Manager. “First, the individuals targeted by this plan have a legitimate claim to Sudanese citizenship – since most have lived in Sudan their entire lives – and there is currently no way for them to apply for South Sudanese citizenship. Second, forcing men, women, and children into deportation camps and shipping them off to a country that many have never seen would be a legal and moral disaster.”
The proposal is just the latest demonstration of the Sudanese government’s continued hostility toward Sudanese of southern descent. This campaign of fear is already forcing families to leave their homes and make the arduous journey to South Sudan. There is serious concern that any suggestion of forced deportation will add to the exodus at a time when any movement south is incredibly difficult.
RI’s lead advocate for Sudan, Peter Orr said that Khartoum’s plan was not only illegal, but also entirely unworkable. “It has taken more than two years to move more than 350,000 people who volunteered to return to South Sudan from Sudan – and they had to overcome incredible logistical challenges,” Mr. Orr said. “Now, with fighting on the border between the two countries, and thousands of voluntary returnees clogging up roads and waterways, how long would it take for 700,000 to make the journey? Deporting such a huge number of individuals to the South at this time would be a logistical nightmare and a humanitarian catastrophe.”
RI maintains that Sudan and South Sudan must reach a deal on citizenship issues that respects every person’s right to nationality.
Refugees International is a Washington DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. For more information, please go to www.refugeesinternational.org.
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