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Sudanese authorities issue ID cards for South Sudanese refugees

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February 14, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – As the number of South Sudanese refugees continue to increase in Sudan, the local authorities started this month the issuance of identity cards allowing their identification and enabling them to work in their former country.

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A South Sudanese woman rests on the ground in a refugee shelter at a railway station camp in Khartoum on 11 May 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

According to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, the number of South Sudanese who arrived in Sudan since December 2013 has reached 120,574 people.

Some 66,500 refugees are now relocated in the White Nile state, 32,205 in Khartoum, 14,203 in South Kordofan, nearly 4,000 in West Kordofan and 3,661 in Blue Nile state.

The registration process includes refugees who arrived since last year fleeing the inter-South Sudanese conflict and those who remain in Sudan since the independence of their country in July 2011. The number of South Sudanese nationals in Sudan is estimated at 500,000 people.

On 4 February, the UNHCR said that since the beginning of the registration on 1 February some 2,820 South Sudanese citizens received their identity cards from the Sudanese Directorate General of Passports and Immigration (DPI).

The new IDs “will be a legally recognised proof of identity, granting them the rights to stay, work and move freely in Sudan, as well as have access to civil status documents and other public services available to Sudanese citizen,” said the UNHCR.

Sudanese authorities initially refused to register South Sudanese as refugees saying they have the right to stay and work where they want as the Sudanese national. This decision complicates the work of UN agencies and aid groups as they need quantify and relocate the refugees in determined areas before to provide them with assistance.

On 21 December, the DPI, UNHCR and the Sudanese Commission for Refugees (COR) signed a memorandum of understanding on the registration and documentation of South Sudanese citizens in Sudan. This agreement is seen as compromise between the two parties.

Following the rush of refugees into Khartoum state where their relatives almost are settled, the Sudanese government agreed with the UN agencies to relocate the South Sudanese national in the border states like the White Nile, South, and West Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The UNHCR is preparing the relocation sites in White Nile with school and health dispensaries. The UN agency further said in a recent report that water is connected to schools while electricity and sanitation infrastructure is under construction.

(ST)

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