Forced migration in the two Sudans

This article will be published in Outre-Terre, a French geopolitical quarterly journal.

Neither the independence nor the secession has brought peace for Sudan. The history of the country after the decolonisation has been dominated by armed conflicts, which have also influenced other countries in the region through the migration of masses of people looking for safety. In this respect Uganda has become the most affected country by 2017, with more than a million South Sudanese refugees arriving in the space of a year[1], so the Sudanese situation has become the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world[2]. This paper aims to present the migration related to the two Sudans today, focusing on the migration of refugees, and to reveal the reasons hidden in the background.

Although Sudan can be deemed as a migration target, a transit territory and a releasing country at the same time, the statistical data show that those leaving the country are in the highest proportion.[3] According to a study published by the Migration Policy Center in 2012, conflicts can be deemed as the key driving force of the Sudanese migration, whether within or beyond the country borders[4], so we can actually speak about forced migration, in the case of emigrations, too[5]. This paper presents the armed conflicts that have taken place since the decolonisation of the country as the main reasons for the forced migration waves as well as the migrations resulting from these conflicts. In this way, it aims to introduce the readers to the region and help them understand the challenges related to the region.

The first and second civil wars

Having become independent in 1956, Sudan now has more than 150 ethnical groups that speak nearly 500 languages and dialects.[6] As for their location, simplistically, the Arab Muslims live in the northern part of the country, while the non-Arab Christians live in the south. The ethnical dividedness fundamentally determines the level of economic and political development, too, which has been the main starting point of armed conflicts over the past fifty years[7].

The conflicting identities are the result of the colonisation since the British deemed the northern part of the country as part of the Near East and the southern territories as part of Africa, and they governed them accordingly, too[8]. Being under British-Egyptian occupancy from the late 19th century, the country used to have indirect governance – like other countries of the English colonial empire – , according to which the political power was concentrated in the hands of the northern Arabs, so the development finance was mainly allocated here. This placed the northerners at a disadvantage in the fields of education, employment, infrastructure developments, healthcare and other services, too.[9] The marginalisation of the southern part of the country resulted in an increasing social tension, which culminated in the First Sudanese Civil War starting in 1955 and lasting for nearly two decades (1955-1972)[10].

The conflict in domestic politics was closed by the Addis Abeba Agreement, which granted some kind of political and economic independence to the southern part of the country by setting up the autonomous regional government.[11] Nevertheless, the Khartoum Government soon restricted this relative independence by introducing the Islam law, i.e. the Sharia, which regulated the business, political and social life of the whole country and violated the autonomy of the southern part of the country.[12] Consequently, in 1983 the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) rose in revolt against the central government, and the Second Civil War broke out and lasted for 22 years[13].

The Second Sudanese Civil War was ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 and laid the foundations of independence of South Sudan. According to the contract, after a six-year transition period, South Sudan can hold a referendum on becoming independent from the northern part of the country. The referendum was held between 9 and 15 January 2011, and 98% of the respondents voted for the separation; therefore, the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, i.e. the youngest state of Africa was declared on 9 July 2011. [14]

Border disputes: Kordofan and the Blue Nile

However, the separation did not relieve the strain between the parties, and this time the control over the 2,135 km of borderline between the two countries became a source of conflict.[15] Located there is the vast majority of the former Sudan’s oil stocks of 5 billion barrels[16]. Eighty percent of the exploitation is performed in the border area of South Sudan;[17] however, the refineries and oil pipelines required for the export can be found in the north, which creates economic dependence between the two countries[18]. Upon the secession of the South, Sudan lost 75% of its oil revenues, a half of its fiscal payments capacity and two-thirds of its international payment capacity.[19]

Overall, therefore, an armed conflict emerged in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, with the added complication of ethnical and political aspects.[20] As a result of the armed conflict, more than a hundred thousand people were forced to leave their homes in the region. In 2013 this meant 220,000 people in Southern Kordofan and 176,000 people in the Blue Nile state.[21]

Figure 1. Border conflicts connected to oil production

Own edition

Darfur

Concerning the conflicts related to Sudan, we should mention the case of Darfur, where armed conflicts already occurred over several decades before the millennium. Generally, the conflict in Darfur is said to have started in 2003. That year the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebelled against the Sudanese government – owing to the political and economic marginalisation of the non-Arab population living in the region. To quell the revolt, Khartoum threw in the Janjaweed – “devils on horseback” – militia, whose main aim was to take revenge on the civil population. As a result, by the end of 2003 at least 1 million people had been forced to leave their homes, and over a hundred thousand people fled to the neighbouring Chad.[22] Five years later violence intensified in the region again, making approx. 2.7 million people leave their homes, and the number of people fleeing to Chad rose to 250,000.[23] Massacres are still taking place; the International Criminal Court qualified the conflict as genocide and issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir owing to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.[24] According to the estimation of IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre), the number of people intending to leave their homes had exceeded 3 million by 2015 in Sudan.[25] This number includes the people compelled to flee owing to the violence in the territory of Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

The South Sudanese civil war

The Republic of South Sudan had strained relations with not only its northern neighbour but a civil war was raging within the country, too, mainly for political and tribal-ethnic reasons. Upon the decolonisation the SPLM/A, which had fought against Khartoum during the Second Sudanese Civil War, rose to power under the leadership of the Dinka President Salva Kiir Mayardit.[26] In 2013 Kiir dismissed his Nuer Vice President Riek Machar after their relations had grown so acrimonious that the President had even accused Machar of plotting a coup. As a response, Machar set up the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and an armed conflict broke out between the two tribes [27], with more than fifty tribes joining it later.[28] In October 2015 the African Union released a report on the civil war, comparing the massacres to the Rwandan events in 1994. According to the report, although no genocide occurred, both parties committed war crimes.[29]

According to the data of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), since the breakout of the Civil War in December 2013 more than 2 million people have fled from South Sudan into the neighbouring countries by today, while at least as many people were forced to leave their homes within the country. Concerning the surrounding countries, nearly half a million (447,287) are staying in Sudan and a bit fewer (416,886) in Ethiopia. At the same time, a considerable number of South Sudanese refugees are living in Kenya (110,377), the Democratic Republic of Congo (85,426) and Chad (2,057), too. [30]

Figure 2. The number of South Sudanese refugees in the neighbouring countries

Source of data: UNHCR[31]; Edited by: László Gere

Most of them – more than one million people – fled to Uganda, which has become the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world with 1,800 South Sudanese arriving every day since the summer of 2016. Eighty-five percent of the people arriving in Uganda are women and children.[32] The following graph illustrates the number of refugees broken down by the date, showing that the sudden increase in the number of refugees started in the summer of 2016 and intensified in early 2017.[33]

Figure 3. The number of South Sudanese refugees arriving at Uganda (2013-2017)

Source of data: UNHCR[34]

Besides the intensification of the armed conflict, background is the famine striking the Horn of Africa, which has been declared the most severe humanitarian disaster since the UN’s foundation in 1945[35] and threatens the lives of over 20 million people.[36] Besides the more and more frequent droughts owing to the global climate change, the reason is the political conflicts. In South Sudan it is life-threatening to work the lands owing to the raids of the armed troops, and the insufficient operation of the economy has extremely increased the price of foodstuff, among others.[37]

All these factors have given a considerable boost to the refugee wave towards Uganda. Here the state offers lands to the refugees where they can build shelter and perform agricultural activities, and refugees also have the right to freely move, work and use the public services.[38] However, the system has become overloaded despite the progressive management of the asylum matters, as a result of the crowd of over one million people.

Overall, it can be established that the security political situation of the two Sudans has a destabilising influence on the entire region, primarily through millions of people fleeing from armed conflicts, which imposes a huge burden on the surrounding national economies and causes international tension. To solve this situation, the internal situation should be restored, which, regrettably, does not seem to be a reasonable prospect in the near future owing to the complexity of the hostility. In the meantime, however, it is essential that the people forced to flee their homes be provided proper living conditions since a considerable part of them has to suffer a humanitarian crisis owing to the famines and atrocities against them. They guarantee that the two Sudans will be reconstructed. Still, it seems that in the lack of appropriate governmental steps this task falls on the international community for the time being.

 

Bibliography:

Notes:

[1] ROBINSON, Catherine: South Sudanese refugees in Uganda now exceed 1 million. UNHCR, 2017.08.17., http://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2017/8/59915f604/south-sudanese-refugees-uganda-exceed-1-million.htmlv (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[2] BURKE, Jason: Bonded by spilt blood, South Sudanese refugees in Uganda reach million mark. In: The Guardian, 2017.08.17., https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/aug/17/south-sudan-refugee-families-uganda (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[3] STRACHAN, Anna Louise: Rapid fragility and migration assessment for Sudan. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, 2016.02.

[4] DI BARTOLOMEO, Anna – JAULIN, Thibaut – PERRIN, Delphine: Sudan (CARIM – Migration Profile). Florence, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute. 2012, 9.

[5] SZALKAI Attila: A kényszermigráció biztonságpolitikai kockázata a 21. század elején. In: Nemzet és biztonság: biztonságpolitikai szemle, 3/II., 2010

[6] RIAK AKUEI, Stephanie: Informal Remittance ystems in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries: Sudan Country Study. ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), 2005.01.15., https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/ER-2005-Informal_Remittances_Sudan.pdf (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[7] JOHNSON, Douglas H.: The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars. Oxford: James Currey Publishers, 2003; JOK, Jok Madut: War and Slavery in Sudan. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001

[8] NYUON, Abraham Kuol: Is the Current POlitical Crisis a Continuation of Previous Conflict in the Sudan? Master of Arts Dissertation, King’s College London, 2015.03.22. https://www.academia.edu/13089961/South_Sudan_political_Crisis_and_Sudan_Conflict (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[9] ibid.

[10] RIAK AKUEI, Stephanie: Informal Remittance ystems in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries: Sudan Country Study. ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), 2005.01.15., https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/ER-2005-Informal_Remittances_Sudan.pdf (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[11] NYUON, Abraham Kuol: Is the Current POlitical Crisis a Continuation of Previous Conflict in the Sudan? Master of Arts Dissertation, King’s College London, 2015.03.22. https://www.academia.edu/13089961/South_Sudan_political_Crisis_and_Sudan_Conflict (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[12] YOUSIF, Adeeb – ROTHBART, Daniel: Sudan and South Sudan: Post-Separation Challenges. George Mason University, 2012.12., https://www.academia.edu/2190827/Sudan_and_South_Sudan_Post-Separation_Challenges (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[13] STRACHAN, Anna Louise: Rapid fragility and migration assessment for Sudan. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, 2016.02.

[14] NYUON, Abraham Kuol: Is the Current POlitical Crisis a Continuation of Previous Conflict in the Sudan? Master of Arts Dissertation, King’s College London, 2015.03.22. https://www.academia.edu/13089961/South_Sudan_political_Crisis_and_Sudan_Conflict (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[15]  YOUSIF, Adeeb – ROTHBART, Daniel: Sudan and South Sudan: Post-Separation Challenges. George Mason University, 2012.12., https://www.academia.edu/2190827/Sudan_and_South_Sudan_Post-Separation_Challenges (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[16] OPEC: Annual Statistical Bulletin 2017.,http://www.opec.org/opec_web/static_files_project/media/downloads/publications/ASB2017_13062017.pdf (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[17] BBC News: Southern Sudan votes on idependence. 2011.01.09., http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12144675 (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[18] IVÁN András:Új ország születhet Dél-Szudánban. In: index, 2011.01.09. http://index.hu/kulfold/2011/01/09/mintha_az_iberiai-felsziget_kiszakadna/ (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[19] IMF (International Monetary Fund): Sudan (IMF Country Report 14/364). Washington, DC: IMF, 2014, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2014/cr14364.pdf (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[20] YOUSIF, Adeeb – ROTHBART, Daniel: Sudan and South Sudan: Post-Separation Challenges. George Mason University, 2012.12., https://www.academia.edu/2190827/Sudan_and_South_Sudan_Post-Separation_Challenges (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[21] STRACHAN, Anna Louise: Rapid fragility and migration assessment for Sudan. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, 2016.02.

[22] BBC News: Profile: Sudan’s President Bashir. 2003.11.25., http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3273569.stm (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[23] ICG (International Crisis Group): The chaos in Darfur (Africa Briefing 110). Nairobi & Brussels: ICG, 2015

http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/horn-of-africa/sudan/b110-the-chaos-in-darfur.aspx (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[24] GRIGSBY, Hope: In Search of Hope: Migration Across Sudan. 2014., https://www.academia.edu/16461079/In_Search_of_Hope_Migration_Across_Sudan (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[25] IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre): Sudan IDP Figures Analysis. http://www.internal-displacement.org/sub-saharan-africa/sudan/figures-analysis (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[26] ICG (International Crisis Group): Sudan and South Sudan’s merging conflicts. (Africa Report 223). Addis

Ababa, Juba, Nairobi & Brussels: ICG, 2015, http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/horn-of-africa/southsudan/223-sudan-and-south-sudan-s-merging-conflicts.aspx (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[27] ANDA, Krisztina: Dél-Sudán: a polgárháború horrorja. In: Biztonságpolitika, 2015.11.08., http://biztonsagpolitika.hu/cikkek/del-szudan-a-polgarhaboru-horrorja (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[28] Economist: Jade din Juba. As South Sudan implodes, America reconsiders its support for the regime. 2017.10.12., https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21730154-american-officials-are-fed-up-being-lied-violent-crooked (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[29] African Union: Final report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan. 2015.10.27.,http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/final-report-of-the-african-union-commission-of-inquiry-on-south-sudan (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[30] UNHCR: South Sudan Situation. Information Sharing Portal, 2017.10.01., http://data.unhcr.org/SouthSudan/country.php?id=229 (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[31] UNHCR: South Sudan Situation – Regional overview of population of concern. 2017.09.30., data.unhcr.org/SouthSudan/download.php?id=3388 (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[32] UNHCR: South Sudan refugees in Uganda pass 1 million mark, UNHCR renews call for help. 2017.08.17., http://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2017/8/599457a34/south-sudan-refugees-uganda-pass-1-million-mark-unhcr-renews-call-help.html (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[33] UNHCR: South Sudan Situation. Information Sharing Portal, 2017.10.01., http://data.unhcr.org/SouthSudan/country.php?id=229 (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[34]Ibid.

[35] Aljazeera: Famine ’largest humanitarian crisis in hiistory of UN’. 2017.03.11., http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/famine-united-nations-170310234132946.html (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[36] Ibid.

[37] CHAMBERLAIN, Gethin: No food, no money: conflict and chaos as South Sudan grapples with famine. In: The Guardian, 2017.06.15., https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jun/15/no-food-no-money-conflict-and-chaos-as-south-sudan-grapples-with-famine (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

[38] ROBINSON, Catherine: South Sudanese refugees in Uganda now exceed 1 million. UNHCR, 2017.08.17., http://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2017/8/59915f604/south-sudanese-refugees-uganda-exceed-1-million.html (Downloaded: 2017.10.30.)

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