The disappearance of Sudan? Life in Khartoum for citizens without rights

Published: 1/May/2013
Source: International Refugee Rights Initiative

This paper is about the experience of people living in Khartoum State who identify themselves as being from one of the conflict-affected areas of Sudan. It focuses primarily on those from the newly independent state of South Sudan, the (now) five Darfur states, and Southern Kordofan state. For decades, marginalisation and neglect of these areas by the government of Sudan has led to a series of conflicts characterised by attacks by the state against those living on the peripheries, and violent defence by local opposition forces in response. These conflicts have further exacerbated the economic, political and cultural marginalisation of large geographical areas of the country.

As a result, over the past decades millions of people have moved to the capital city in search f services and safety. However, the same logic of discrimination that forced them from their homes has been replicated in Khartoum: they have continued to be treated as second class citizens at best, and as non-citizens at worst. Following the secession of the Republic of South Sudan in June 2011, spaces for belonging–as evidenced by the ability to access one’s rights–further contracted, hardening the fault lines that separate insiders from outsiders. In the context of the loss of territory and resources, new conflict, and rising opposition, the state has continued to create a polity that s strongly exclusionary, and Khartoum represents a microcosm of this process: those who are rom the margins continue to be treated as outsiders, yet ongoing conflicts in many parts of the country mean they have little choice but to remain in the capital. At every level, and in direct contradiction to the president’s assertion above, therefore, their citizenship is devalued.

For those considered to be from the south, this exclusion was described in unequivocal terms: at the time of the research, a new law had stipulated that they were no longer entitled to Sudanese nationality and the president had ordered their “return” to South Sudan. At the same time, the experiences of those from other marginalised areas who are legally entitled to the rights that go with Sudanese citizenship were little different. Sudanese and “southern” Sudanese alike are being excluded from the state’s resources, including protection, on the basis of who they are or where they are from –or are perceived to be from.

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Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, State Succession, New States, Statelessness
Regions: East Africa, South Sudan, Sudan
Year: 2013