Posted by: africanpressorganization | 7 July 2011

UNHCR commends Government statements supporting residency rights for Southern residents in Sudan



UNHCR commends Government statements supporting residency rights for Southern residents in Sudan


KARTHOUM, Sudan, July 7, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UNHCR Representative in Sudan has commended Government statements supporting residency rights for Southern residents in the North and urged commitment to prevention of statelessness as well as further clarity on the rights of Southerners in northern Sudan after 9 July.

Peter de Clercq said, “Hundreds of thousands of individuals in the North will be affected by South Sudan’s secession. People may find that they need to access new procedures to confirm their citizenship, acquire residency and guarantee employment and property rights. A transitional period will provide more time for these individuals to make vital decisions concerning their future.”

De Clercq was reacting to recent statements by President Omar al Bashir that current Southern residents in the North will be entitled to residency permits after 9th July and to Government statements supporting a nine-month transitional period to address citizenship and residency issues after Southern independence.

“UNHCR remains committed to supporting both Governments in their efforts to plan and execute the phased, safe and voluntary return of IDPs wishing to go to South Sudan. We urge that they continue to work together to reassure communities that return will be possible in the long term.”

UNHCR is encouraging the two Governments to provide further details as soon as possible of the transitional arrangements relating to nationality, residency and labour rights and the applicable regulations and procedures for acquiring residency documents, as well as a wide reaching public information campaign targeting affected populations.

With respect to nationality provisions, UNHCR is urging the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to reach an agreement on the question of citizenship including a commitment to preventing statelessness, and applicable procedures for persons in doubt of their citizenship.

Citizenship issues can prove complex and unless laws are carefully drafted individuals may be left in legal limbo with lack of clarity as to their citizenship status. The current uncertainty about how individuals will be treated where they qualify for the nationality of both states is of particular concern.

Many thousands of Southerners are waiting at departure points in Khartoum State and White Nile State. Others are being transported to Renk where only limited facilities exist. Just over 300,000 Southerners have returned to the South from northern Sudan since October 2010. UN agencies estimate that over 1 million Southerners still remain in the North.

The United Nations General Assembly has entrusted UNHCR with a global mandate for the prevention and reduction of statelessness and the protection of stateless persons. Since issues of citizenship typically arise in the event of State succession, the General Assembly and UNHCR’s Executive Committee have consistently underlined the importance of avoiding statelessness in such situations.



United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)


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