Academic journal article Ahfad Journal

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Decision Time for Southern Sudan People in Khartoum

Academic journal article Ahfad Journal

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Decision Time for Southern Sudan People in Khartoum

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sudan is a country that ended the long standing war by negotiations between rebel groups and the central government. The result of the settlement of that civil war was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005, which gave the South Sudan people the right for self- determination through a referendum, in 2011. The result of referendum was their choice for separation. The South Sudanese who livened for decades in Khartoum and other towns in the North have become foreigners according to the vote for separation.

During the first civil war between the North and South (1956-1972), some 800,000 people were internally displaced within the Sudan. Among those displaced are students of secondary schools, such as Rumbek, some of whom continued their education in the North and were enrolled in universities and continued to live in that region. During the peace period 1972-1983, many southerners migrated to the north to work in agriculture and the construction sectors. The migrants to Khartoum were attracted by urban facilities such as education, and health services as the reconstruction of the south was not taken seriously (Assal 2006). However, the momentum of forced migration as a nation-wide phenomenon, in Sudan started in 1983 with the resumption of civil war in South Sudan; the recurrent environmental hazards in the Western and Eastern regions with especial reference to the escalation of Darfur conflict in 2003. Between 1983 and 1991, close to 3 million people were estimated to have been displaced from the South, and an estimated 2.3 million of them took refuge in the North, of whom 1.8 million settled in Greater Khartoum.

Khartoum State has received the majority of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and women constitute a majority of them. In the IDPs camps in Khartoum different ethnic groups have been living together sharing sources of water, health and education services and competing for survival. Women had central role in maintaining livelihoods in the camps. Some of the IDPs from the camps succeeded to secure income and benefit from opportunities given by the government for owning residential lands for permanent settlement. It is expected that few of the many women-maintained households would have access to housing. Some IDPs were helped by relatives to settle in houses under construction and thus their opportunities and challenges for survival differed from those in the camps. Some southerners, mostly males, who migrated to study in universities in the North or returned after migrating/ studying abroad managed to secure good sources of living and houses in middle and first class areas before the resumption of the war in 1983. This represents a generations who have never been to South Sudan. Some of these groups deny being referred to as 'IDPs' and are living in urban neighborhoods as other urban dwellers although all are considered as forced migration (Assal 2008).

With the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) all these groups from South Sudan living in the North had the right, through the 2011 referendum, to vote for unity or secession and according to the results they have to take decision to either return or stay. The referendum assumes that the South Sudan is the home of South Sudan people and by referendum all south Sudan people in Khartoum, including migrants, are to be in one category as IDPs or refugees that have to take decision to return. Given such a situation a number of questions can be asked such as: how do the South Sudan people in Khartoum respond to the situation and do they have a de facto choice? What are the factors influencing their decisions to return or stay? How are these decisions affected by different economic and social opportunities and constraints of both men and women of different ages? How do they evaluate their current situation? How do they perceive their integration into the Khartoum society? What are their expectations and challenges if they choose to return? …

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