"Sudan/ South Sudan: Violence persists in Jonglei State, South Kordofan and Blue Nile as two nations face nationality and border issues", ICRtoP
Continued dire humanitarian situation in Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan
Over 80,000 refugees from Blue Nile have fled violence to South Kordofan since November 2011, and remain without access to the most basic of resources, such as water and shelter, Médecins Sans Frontièresstated on 14 March. Reports on 10 March said hundreds of people have sought refuge in recent days as a result of the ongoing fighting in the region. Meanwhile, Mukesh Kapila, a former UN representative to Sudan, comparing the situation to crimes experienced in the Darfur region, warned that the government of Sudan is targeting non-Arab villages in South Kordofan.
In addition to the ongoing threat of violence, the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile face an increasing humanitarian crisis as near famine conditions have been reported in rebel controlled regions. The government of Sudan has refused entry to humanitarian organizations despite the growing risk to civilians. In an effort to deliver aid to the people of Sudan, the United Nations, African Union, and League of Arab States agreed to a tripartite proposal in February which aims to create an oversight committee and assessment teams to initiate the delivery of aid. In its 6 March Presidential Statement the UN Security Council (UNSC) welcomed this proposal, emphasizing “the grave urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to avert a worsening of the serious crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile”. Nonetheless, President Omar al-Bashir rejected the idea as “biased”.
Recurring violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state results in displacement of thousands
Fresh fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups in the Akobo region of Jonglei state has caused approximately 15,000 Lou Nuer civilians to seek refuge in Ethiopia since mid-February reported the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Adrian Edwards on 13 March. Although violence over grievances has been recurring for years, clashes have affected over 120,000 people since December 2011 alone. To respond to the displacement crisis and increased hostilities, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) dispatched patrol units and medical teams to the border with Ethiopia, reported UN News on 13 March. Additionally, the Secretary-General’s Special Representa tive for South Sudan and head of UNMISS, Hilde Johnson, called on the communities of Jonglei to cooperate, noting that UNMISS would monitor developments.
Measures taken by the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to address outstanding issues
As instability and violence rages in both states, the governments of Sudan and South Sudan have sought to address the rights for citizens of South Sudan residing in the north and Northerners in the South as well as on border demarcation. As Human Rights Watch noted in its 2 March press release, the government of Sudan previously stated that Southerners would have until 8 April to return to South Sudan or risk being “treated as foreigners”. As the report notes, “under Sudanese law…Sudanese people automatically lose citizenship when they acquire ‘de jure or de facto’ the ‘nationality of South Sudan”, thus leading to fears that large numbers of Southerners would be stripped of citizenship and expelled after 8 April. In a Presidential Statement released 6 March, the UNSC called for both governments to take appropriate measures to allow civilians to acquire nationality in each state and to grant an extension if this could not be resolved prior to the 8 April deadline.
Although not addressing the question of citizenship, the governments of both states agreed to a framework agreement that would provide citizens of Sudan residing in South Sudan and vice versa the “freedom of residence, freedom of movement, freedom to undertake economic activity and freedom to acquire and dispose property”. An additional Agreement on the Demarcation of the Boundary and Related Issues was made, which will create mechanisms to initiate the establishment of a border between the two nations. Both agreements were reached with the assistance of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on 12 March, and were welcomed by the African Union in a 14 March press release.
1. Sudan: Don’t Strip Citizenship Arbitrarily
Human Rights Watch
2 March 2012
Sudan should not strip Sudanese nationals of southern origin of their Sudanese citizenship if they are unable or unwilling to acquire South Sudanese citizenship, Human Rights Watch said today.
The government should not presume that all Sudanese of southern origin are citizens of South Sudan and should revise its nationality law accordingly. People who wish to retain their Sudanese citizenship, rather than obtain South Sudanese citizenship, should be allowed to do so. (…)
Earlier in 2012, Sudanese authorities announced that southerners should either return to South Sudan or that they would be treated as foreigners and should adjust their legal status by April 8, at the end of a nine-month transition period following South Sudan’s independence. On February 12, Sudan and South Sudan re-affirmed the deadline in an agreement on modalities for returning people to South Sudan, but did not address the status of southerners wishing to remain citizens of Sudan. (…)
Although large numbers of southerners returned to South Sudan before and after the country gained its independence on July 9, 2011, an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 people of southern origin still live in Sudan. Many fled the long civil war in the south and have lived in Sudan for decades, or were born there and have few ties to South Sudan. (…)
There are signs that Sudanese authorities have already begun to strip people of their citizenship, in violation of international law. In some cases they have refused to issue the new Sudanese national number to people because of their southern roots. The number is a required proof of identity for all Sudanese citizens. (…)
At the same time, hostile rhetoric from Sudanese government officials toward southerners, which began in the period leading up to the referendum, has stoked fears that large numbers of southerners will be expelled after April 8. President Omar Al-Bashir, who began calling southerners “foreign” during the referendum, has repeatedly vowed that Sudan’s new constitution will not provide any protections for non-Muslims or diversity, a threat that is widely understood in Sudan as directed against southerners and other ethnic minorities, many of whom are Christians. (…)
Although under international law, states have a right to control granting of citizenship, and the entry to and residency of non-citizens in their territory, a state can do so only subject to its human rights obligations. This prohibits a state from acting in a discriminatory or arbitrary manner that would result in leaving a person stateless and requires respect for the rights a person has acquired due to strong personal or family ties in the territory. (…)
Sudan should amend its nationality law to prevent people from becoming stateless and to ensure that the nationality criteria conform to international standards such as not excluding people on the basis of ethnicity, Human Rights Watch said. Sudan is also a party to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which guarantees equality between citizens and non-citizens in all core human rights. Therefore, anyone living in Sudan regardless of citizenship should be entitled to equal protection of basic civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, Human Rights Watch said.
South Sudan, which has yet to provide consular services in Sudan, should also take steps to make sure anyone who is eligible for South Sudanese citizenship, and who wants it, can obtain nationality documents, said Human Rights Watch. (…)