For decades Sudan has faced prolonged civil war, violence between ethnic and political factions, droughts and famine as well as an inefficient distribution of international aid. This has resulted in the displacement of significant portions of the population. Here are seven facts about refugees from Sudan that highlight current hindrances and initiatives to improve their quality of life.
- According to a 2016 report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 3.2 million Sudanese are classified as internally displaced persons (IDP). There are 78,000 people who are in IDP-like situations while 355,000 are considered refugees, asylum-seekers and others of concern. Sudan also hosts an estimated 350,000 Southern Sudanese individuals due to the separation of South Sudan from Sudan in 2012.
- Of the nations with significant populations of Sudanese refugees, most flee to Chad, which currently hosts nearly 305,000 refugees. Egypt currently hosts 30,000 Sudanese refugees, Ethiopia hosts 38,000 and Kenya hosts 3,500.
- While earlier waves of Sudanese refugees first found asylum in neighboring countries, refugees from Sudan have recently begun using these border nations as a medium for resettlement in a third country. Some refugees move between different countries in the region to increase chances for resettlement.
- Fleeing civil unrest and food insecurity in their home country, many refugees turn to bordering host countries with varying degrees of success. Egypt, for example, allows refugees to seek employment but requires employers to prove that no Egyptian national is available to work before issuing a work permit to a refugee.
- In contrast, Seeds for Solutions, a Chad-based agricultural program developed by UNHCR and the Lutheran World Federation, provides Sudanese refugees with resources to live sustainably while growing and selling their own crops.
- Sudanese refugee women are rarely literate, rarely take on community leadership roles and are more likely to become mothers at an early age. Although equal numbers of girls and boys attend primary schools in eastern Chad refugee camps, the pass rate for girls taking public exams at the end of grade eight is 25 percent, compared to 75 percent for boys.
- In response to gender inequities, the international Catholic organization Jesuit Refugee Service offers literacy classes to young Sudanese women in eastern Chad refugee camps. This organization also offers leadership training and support classes for young mothers and survivors of sexual violence.
Although the displacement of vulnerable populations has been a persistent issue in Sudanese history for decades, international initiatives and foreign aid are working to improve the lives of refugees from Sudan.
– Casie Wilson