Sudan/South Sudan: Gaining a nation, losing a nationality

Published: 17/Jan/2012
Source: Refugees International

By Sarnata Reynolds

Just as the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) officially gained nationhood six months ago, hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese were losing their nationality.

While independence was being celebrated in Juba, the government in Khartoum was busy declaring that anyone with family ties to the new country would no longer be Sudanese. They would be stripped of the only nationality they had ever held.

Men and women born in the south, who had fled to Khartoum seeking refuge from the civil war, were told they had no right to remain there. Children of southern descent, who had lived their whole lives in Kassala or Port Sudan, faced arrest and deportation to a country they had never seen.

Citizens of Sudan since birth, these individuals were denationalized en masse. They were given no warning and no opportunity to challenge the assumption that they had automatically become citizens of RoSS. They were told that they had nine months to acquire legal status elsewhere – ending on April 9, 2012 – but without valid identity documents they have no ability to do so. These individuals could in theory seek South Sudanese citizenship, but the government there began issuing identity documents just two weeks ago, and they would face the daunting task of proving ties to a land where many of them have never lived.

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Themes: Loss and Deprivation of Nationality, State Succession, New States, Statelessness
Regions: South Sudan, Sudan
Year: 2012