News / Africa

Report: Refugees in Northern Sudan at Risk for Referendum Violence

TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Onyiego

A report released Tuesday says nearly two million south Sudanese living in the north are in danger of statelessness and targeted attacks.  The report comes as south Sudan prepares for a January referendum on independence.  

In a new report, Washington-based Refugees International warns that Khartoum could be a potential hotspot for violence after the 2011 referendum through which the south is widely expected to vote for independence from the north.

According to the vice president for policy at Refugees International, Joel Charny, southerners living in the north face a litany of obstacles which may further marginalize them come January.

"They face great discrimination," he said. "Sharia law has been applied relentlessly to southerners living in the north, even though the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has built-in protections for non-Muslims.  The government in Khartoum has never worked to integrate the internally displaced into northern society.  Instead they have denied them government services, and they periodically round them up from the internally displaced persons camps where they were previously located, and they have been moved to ever more distant sites."

Charny says newspapers affiliated with the ruling National Congress Party has frequently quoted party officials who question the right of southerners to remain after the referendum.  While such remarks are often dismissed as empty political rhetoric, Charny believes they raise the possibility of violence.

According to the report, southerners living in the north are also at risk of losing legal protections and possible citizenship.  Without existing legal protections, many refugees who have rebuilt their lives in the north could be forced to return home and start over once more.  Students are also at risk.  Southern Sudan lacks comparable options for education and Refugees International fears many will be forced to cut their studies short.

The organization has called on the National Congress Party and the Southern People's Liberation Movement to address the refugee issues immediately.

Absent a coherent policy, the report urges international actors in Khartoum and Juba to conduct surveys on the desire of southerners to return home and to organize efforts to assist voluntary repatriation.

The people of south Sudan are widely expected to choose independence when the referendum is held in six months.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 to end the 20-year civil war between the two sides, requires both the north and south to address issues of discrimination and refugee protection before the January referendum.  But negotiations have been slow, and larger issues such as border demarcation and oil-revenue sharing have dominated the talks.

Many observers worry that a lack of clarity on these issues could spur a return to violence.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid