The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is calling attention to the statelessness of people of South Sudanese origin who are living in Sudan amid human rights abuses, including a lack of religious freedom.
|map from CIA World Factbook, converted from original format (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Sudan has implemented sharia Islamic law, which harshly impacts Christian Southerners.
USCIRF is calling on the U.S. government and its allies to "increase their efforts to help Sudan and South Sudan resolve the status of their nationals residing in the other's territory."
USCIRF chair Katrina Lantos Swett said in a news release July 9:
"It is a potential recipe for disaster that after more than two years of discussions, half a million Southerners in Sudan remain stateless and vulnerable to severe religious freedom violations."
"Southerners in Sudan are at a particularly grave risk," Lantos Swett said. "Furthermore, failure to finalize negotiations has left them vulnerable to expulsion."
About 1.5 million South Sudanese have returned to their homeland, but others have chosen to remain in Sudan because they are married to a Sudanese individual, have integrated into the country economically or were born during the war and have grown up in the north.
|Train in South Sudan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Still others have not returned because South Sudan, as a new nation, is unable to absorb everyone who would return by providing them with resources and services such as education and health care.
In some cases, the Sudanese government has shut down the main passageway between the north and south, Lynch said, preventing would-be returnees from accessing South Sudan.
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