IDPs tell Security Council about citizenship concerns

22 May 2011

IDPs tell Security Council about citizenship concerns

22 May 2011 – As part of its four-day visit to Sudan, a UN Security Council delegation today visited Khartoum's Mayo camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), where Southern Sudanese chiefs informed the council about their concerns, including citizenship and security.

Arriving this morning at the Mandela area of Mayo, which is one of Khartoum's four official IDP camps, UN Security Council members met with chiefs of those displaced from Southern Sudan, most of whom have been living in the area for over 20 years.

Addressing participants gathered in a mud-brick pavilion, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the council aimed to ensure that all aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement were met, and sought information on concerns of IDPs remaining in the north.

Taking the floor one by one, several Southern Sudanese sultans (chiefs) raised concerns about the unclear future of their communities, education of their children and security.

"We women suffer a lot, we do all to survive and provide to our families ... our children who are students at universities in the north face challenges. How will they survive?" a female member of the IDP community said.

She added that some formerly displaced people had recently been attacked while returning to the south. Another representative, who hailed from the Bahr El-Ghazal area, said they had encountered difficulties in finding jobs.

"Until now, southerners are still citizens of the north," a sultan from Warrap State said, adding that northerners and southerners lived together peacefully, but politics complicated their coexistence.

Voicing concern about IDP citizenship, other representatives said they felt stateless and were lacking protection, which compounded hardships resulting from lack of schools, healthcare, jobs and poverty.

Participants expressed a wish to return to Southern Sudan, adding that many of them had been waiting for transportation assistance for several months.

Concluding the meeting, Ms. Rice thanked representatives for sharing their hopes and concerns. "We will take your message and experience as we speak with your leaders in Khartoum and Juba."

The Security Council later met with Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives and were scheduled to meet with officials and community members in Wau and Juba over the next two days.