Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 June 2016, 06:10 GMT

Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Sudan

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 19 April 2012
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Sudan, 19 April 2012, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Quick facts
Number of IDPsAt least 2,200,000
Percentage of total populationAt least 7.0%
Start of current displacement situation2003
Peak number of IDPs (Year)2,700,000 (2008)
New displacementAt least 115,000
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement, human rights violations
Human development index169

On 9 July 2011, after more than 50 years of civil war, the Republic of South Sudan declared independence from Sudan. Until that point, Sudan had been the largest country in Africa and also the country with the largest number of IDPs in the world – between 4.5 and 5.2 million people at the end of 2010. While new figures for both countries were estimated by the UN at the end of the year, large information gaps remained.

The UN estimated that at least 2.2 million people remained internally displaced in Sudan at the end of 2011. This figure includes 1.9 million IDPs in Darfur, 200,000 IDPs in South Kordofan, and 66,000 IDPs in Blue Nile.

This figure does not include 110,000 people displaced by fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in Abyei in May. Abyei is a contested area between Sudan and South Sudan, and people displaced from Abyei sought refuge in South Sudan. After the fighting, the UN Security Council established the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to monitor the border and protect civilians and humanitarian workers. In December, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNISFA until the end of May 2012. The governments of Sudan and South Sudan had yet to facilitate returns by withdrawing their respective forces from the area, which was a precondition for the withdrawal of UNISFA.

In the non-Arab South Kordofan State, conflict broke out between the SAF and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in June 2011, and also in Blue Nile State in September; these conflicts were ongoing at the end of the year. The fighting displaced 200,000 people in South Kordofan and 66,000 in Blue Nile. The UN and international NGOs had difficulty in verifying these figures because they were unable to access displaced communities. However, it is believed that IDPs remained in urgent need of assistance, as fighting took place at the height of the "hunger gap" between the two harvests and interrupted agricultural production as well as access to food markets.

The UN also estimated that there were 700,000 people remaining in Khartoum who had been internally displaced there before the independence of South Sudan and whose citizenship status had yet to be resolved. Their protection needs should also be addressed as they have lost Sudanese citizenship with the new nationality law, but may not have access to documents confirming their South Sudan citizenship. It is unclear if they have any options for a durable solution.

Following the end of government-funded support for returns, thousands of others who were also displaced in Khartoum before the independence of South Sudan were stranded at departure points or in transit stations waiting to return to South Sudan. The long waiting periods and lack of services in these places remained of concern to the humanitarian community.

Continuing fighting between the government and other armed opposition groups in North and South Darfur displaced 80,000 people in 2011. However, the UN also reported the return of 45,000 IDPs in West Darfur due to improved security conditions. In July 2011, the government signed the Doha Peace Agreement with the Liberation and Justice Movement.

UNAMID, the joint AU/UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, has struggled to protect civilians, given the scale of violence and displacement, its lack of critical resources, and interference from the Sudanese government that has stalled deployment of troops at various stages. In July 2011, its mandate was extended for one year, to ensure humanitarian access, protect civilians, and support the implementation of the Doha Peace Agreement.

In 2009, the government of Sudan adopted a national IDP policy intended to cover all of Sudan, including the southern regions. However by the end of 2011 it had taken few steps to implement the policy. Sudan has ratified the Great Lakes Pact but had yet to sign the Kampala Convention by 2011.

In October 2010, the UN Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, the only mechanism providing a comprehensive overview of human rights there. The mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) expired in July 2011 with the independence of South Sudan.

The 2011 CAP appeal for humanitarian funds for Sudan was the largest in the world. By December 2011, $750 million or 68 per cent of the requested $1.1 billion had been met. This included $18.3 million allocated by the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for rapid response programmes for new IDPs and to support the return to South Sudan of southerners living in Sudan.

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