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IDP's and returnees of Southern Sudan

After two fratricidal civil wars (during the 21 years of war between 1955 and 2004, 2 million people died), a peace agreement was signed in 2005. On the occasion of a referendum in January 2011 the autonomous region of South voted overwhelmingly for secession from the north, giving birth to the Republic of South Sudan. But the official declaration of independence and the creation of the new African state on July 9th will be held with the shadow of a new military and humanitarian crisis.

On May 21st, the Sudan Alliance Forces in Khartoum has invaded the "buffering" area of Abyei (the area had to vote for its continuation or secession from the north in July 2011), causing the risk of an open war with southern Sudan. Heavy fightings took place between the SAF and the SPLA (Sudan People Liberation Army), causing the near destruction of Abyei. More than 90,000 people fled the area. Since then other sensitive areas have emerged, the conflict now gradually reaches the entire border between North and South. Abyei is the area where the main tensions appear between Khartoum and Juba (the capital of the future state of Southern Sudan): both sides want to control the oil resources of the region. More over, the Myssirias, the Arab residents and nomads, are perceived by the North as being native from the region while the South considers the Dinka as the only local ethnic group (this is an essential element in the results of the vote in the regional referendums). This reveals the different ethnic disputes, both tribal and religious (the Dinka are mostly Christians). The South accused the North of ethnic cleansing in the Abyei region by the army but also by giving weapons to the Myssirias, as they did in Darfur with the Janjaweed militias.

Southern Sudan has to cope with the influx of IDP's who took refuge in towns and villages of south Abyei. To the crisis maybe added some difficulties encountered by the government in Juba to ensure the care of 300,000 southern Sudanese who mainly left the north from Khartoum in October 2010. They wanted to be back to vote for the referendum and participate in the construction of their future country. The Government of South also pledged to give a piece of land of 400 meters square to each family which would come back in the country. This promise has largely contributed to the return of southern Sudanese but will be difficult to hold.

Displaced people from Abyei settle in villages and in camps while "Returnees" from Khartoum are living in reception centers in the outskirts of the city. For the IDP's, there is little hope for an early way back to Abyei as the conflict is bogging down. Concerning the «Returnees », the process sees some of them with relief and happiness to receive their piece of land. Many other will have to wait and suffer the harsh living conditions of the camps.

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