Refugees from Sudan
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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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%, compared to 75% for boys.
  7. 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

Photo: Flickr

Pope Francis announced his support for global education for refugee children at the Jesuit Refugee Service’s 35th anniversary ceremony.

The ceremony included 15 refugees along with friends and staff of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Pope Francis stressed the importance of education for refugee children and youth in order to build peace and improve societies. “To give a child a seat at school is the finest gift you can give,” said the Pope.

Pope Francis has formally recognized and pledged support for the JRS Global Education Initiative to increase the number of refugees served by JRS’s educational program by 100,000 by the year 2020.

“Your initiative of ‘Global Education’ with its motto ‘Mercy in Motion,’ will help you reach many other students who urgently need education which can keep them safe,” Pope Francis said.

Today there are more than 60 million people who have had to flee their homes.

The Initiative helps refugees overcome barriers to education such as overcrowding in schools and being accepted into host communities. Education can keep children safe from gender-based violence, child labor and early marriage. It can also prevent them from joining armed groups.

Only 36 percent of refugee children attend secondary school and less than 1 percent have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

“For children forced to emigrate, schools are places of freedom… Education affords young refugees a way to discover their true calling and to develop their potential,” said the Pope.

JRS works in 45 countries and 10 different regions across all faiths and nationalities to help the most vulnerable in the hardest to reach areas.

According to Independent Catholic News, JRS was founded in 1980 by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus to meet both the human and spiritual needs of refugees. JRS is currently focused on helping refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

JRS is continuing to grow and expand in order to accommodate for refugee children and their need for education.

Jordan Connell

Sources: Independent Catholic News, Jesuit Refugee Service, Vatican Radio
Photo: Flickr

Jesuit Refugee Service USA Gives Voice to Refugees
Jesuit Refugee Service is a non-profit Catholic organization that works “to defend the rights of refugees and migrants throughout the world.” The U.S. division of JRS employs advocacy efforts to fight for “just and generous policies and programs” that will benefit refugees and ensure their protection during times of conflict.

JRS/USA partners with JRS branches across the world along with other aid organizations to make the voices of refugees heard and to propose actions that will properly address their situation.
Though JRS/USA focuses on select domestic issues such as U.S. detainees’ right to religious expression, the organization has pinpointed the following international advocacy issues to focus on during 2013:

  • International Detention: JRS/USA works to assist refugees and asylum seekers who risk being detained. The use of detention to limit asylum seekers has increased over the past ten years, and JRS/USA advocates against the unnecessary detainment of those seeking asylum.
  • Haiti and Dominican Republic: JRS/USA is currently fighting against the unfair treatment of refugees and immigrants that is occurring in the Dominican Republic. The government of the Dominican Republic recently enacted policies that have resulted in “the denial and/or revocation of the nationality of Dominican-born persons of Haitian ethnicity,” and mass deportations of people of Haitian descent are occurring. Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent face xenophobia, arbitrary detention, and denationalization.
  • Colombia: Colombia is home to five million internally displaced people, and 500,000 Colombians have fled to countries such as Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela. Most of these refugees lack access to basic services, and legal barriers prevent them from fully integrating into their countries of asylum. U.S. and global funding for the protection and assistance of Colombian refugees and internally displaced people remains insufficient, so resettlement efforts have not been successful. JRS/USA advocates for increased funding for Colombian refugees and internally displaced people and fights to increase the number of Colombian refugees resettled in the United States.
  • Migrants and Asylum Seekers: JRS/USA advocates for more generous international standards for the treatment of refugees and those who have been internally displaced. JRS/USA also fights for improvements in U.S. treatment of asylum-seekers, detained immigrants, and other displaced people.

Most U.S. citizens agree that certain standards of treatment towards refugees and internally displaced people should be upheld, but they disagree about the role the U.S. government should play in upholding these standards. JRS/USA seeks to highlight the difference U.S. policymakers can make in the lives of those threatened by their own government or country of origin.

– Katie Bandera

Source: Catholic Sentinel, JRS/USA
Photo: JRUSA