Published: 14:00 GMT Standard Time - Wednesday 21 March 2012
New state struggling with food shortage and influx of refugees
They have until 8 April either to leave the strongly Islamic and Arab northern country or to be treated as foreigners under a regime that is extremely hostile to non-Muslims and non-Arabs. The deadline was announced last month.
An estimated 500,000-700,000 people, who are mainly Christians of Southern origin, are affected by the ultimatum. Many of them fled north during the long civil war and have been there for decades. Few have ties with the South.
A senior Church leader said:
We are very concerned. Moving is not easy … people have children in school. They have homes… It is almost impossible.
After the South voted to secede in January 2011, Sudan removed citizenship rights from all those of Southern origin. The Khartoum government considers that people in the North whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were born in South Sudan, and those who belong to any Southern ethnic group, are nationals of that country.
There are fears that Christians who remain in Sudan after the deadline may face increased persecution or even forced repatriation. An influx of hundreds of thousands of people to South Sudan is likely to trigger a humanitarian emergency.
New state under strain
It comes as the nascent state of South Sudan is struggling to cope with escalating needs and problems. A major food shortage is pending, as drought has ruined crops. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that nearly five million people in South Sudan could suffer from food insecurity in 2012, with an estimated one million in severe need.
The country’s resources are also strained by the arrival of refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan. Around 185,000 people have fled to South Sudan and Ethiopia to escape the ongoing aerial bombardment of civilians by the Sudan Armed Forces. Many more, over 400,000, are internally displaced. The region has been under attack since mid-2011. The Nuba Mountains area, which is around 30 per cent Christian, has been one of the worst hit.
This is the latest genocidal campaign by the Sudanese government, which wants a purely Arab and Islamic state.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
Despite the end of the long civil war and independence of South Sudan, Christians in both nations continue to suffer grievously. South Sudan is taking the strain as hundreds of thousands of people flee from President Omar al-Bashir’s ongoing brutal campaign to Islamise and Arabise Sudan completely. Our brothers and sisters need our help and prayers as they are forced to leave their homes and rebuild their lives elsewhere.
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/990 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).
- For all those who are facing the upheaval of leaving Sudan. Pray that the Lord will give them wisdom about what to do and provide for all their practical needs.
- That the Sudan Armed Forces will stop bombing South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and allow the people there to live in peace.
- That the Lord will prosper South Sudan, and that it will have sufficient food and resources to meet the needs of all its citizens and refugees.
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- 4Mission to rescue Christian women and children from Sudan expands to over 3,000 - 5 months ago
- 5Hundreds more Christian women and children airlifted to South Sudan - 8 months ago
- 6Rescue mission for 2,000 vulnerable Christians trapped in Sudan underway - 8 months ago
- 7Barnabas launches major rescue effort for Christian women and children trapped in Sudan - 9 months ago
- 8Sudan and South Sudan agree to peace talks – but attacks continue - 1 year ago
- 9Christians in peril as Sudan and South Sudan head towards war - 1 year ago
- 10Barnabas helps Christian families forced to leave Sudan - 1 year ago