Sudanese Christians who have barely a month to leave the north or risk being treated as foreigners are starting to move, but Christian leaders are concerned that the 8 April deadline set by Islamic-majority Sudan is unrealistic.Refugee and human rights groups have criticized Khartoum's deadline, pointing out that many of the refugees displaced from the South have spent their entire lives in the Sudan and have a legitimate claim on Sudanese citizenship.
“We are very concerned. Moving is not easy. . . people have children in school. They have homes. . . It is almost impossible,” Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Adwok, the Khartoum archdiocese auxiliary told ENInews in a telephone interview on 7 March.
Sudan in February announced the deadline for the former citizens it had stripped of nationality after South Sudan’s January 2011 vote to secede. The ultimatum will affect an estimated 500,000–700,000 people, who are mainly Christians of southern origin that still live in the north.
Many of them fled north during the long civil war fought between the Government of Sudan and the former rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. They have lived there for decades together with children who were born there. Few have ties with South Sudan.
After a 2011 referendum, the predominantly Christian South Sudan voted to split from the Islamic north after more than 15 years of civil war. The oil-rich but war-torn and landlocked South Sudan became indepenent from the north in July 2011.