...that approximately 500,000 South Sudanese in Sudan are stateless?
The status of South Sudanese in Sudan became precarious after South Sudan achieved independence on July 9, 2011. While South Sudan has offered citizenship to Sudanese residents, the Government of Sudan (GoS) has not reciprocated. Rather, on April 1, 2012 the GoS stripped Sudanese citizenship from those who could access South Sudanese citizenship, calling on them to return to South Sudan.
Sudan and South Sudan since January 2011 have engaged in a series of negotiations over the status of nationals in the other’s territory. The two countries in September 2012 each agreed to establish a Joint High Level Committee that would negotiate the status and treatment of their nationals. Future negotiations were to focus on providing freedom of residence, movement, economic activity, and property rights.
However, no progress has been made. Failure to finalize negotiations has left Southerners in Sudan vulnerable to expulsion and gross religious freedom violations. While marking the second anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, USCIRF has highlighted the importance of resolving specific areas of concern, including an explicit protection from statelessness and respect for universal human rights, including religious freedom.
As detailed in USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report the Government of Sudan is a particularly severe violator of religious freedom. The GoS seeks to impose an Islamic and Arab identity on the country, and it continues to violate the religious freedom of the overwhelming majority of South Sudanese in Sudan who are Christian. Since South Sudan’s independence, the Sudanese government has called for the country’s new constitution to be based on Shari’ah, thereby repudiating Sudan’s religious diversity, destroyed churches, and prohibited the construction of new churches. In addition, South Sudanese humanitarian workers employed at Christian organizations were arrested, accused of illegal Christian proselytization, and deported to South Sudan in 2012 and 2013.