Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Sudan

Number of IDPsAt least 2,230,000
Percentage of total populationAt least 6.4%
Start of displacement situation2003
Peak number of IDPs (year)2,700,000 (2008)
New displacement in 2012At least 500,000
Causes of displacementx International armed conflict
✓ Internal armed conflict
✓ Deliberate policy or practice of arbitrary displacement
✓ Communal violence
x Criminal violence
x Political violence
Human development index171
Kampala ConventionUnsigned

NOTE: Figures for both Sudan and South Sudan do not take into account the number of people affected by internal displacement in Abyei Area where at least 56,000 people are thought to remain displaced following violence in May 2011. Some 14,000 are thought to have returned to their places of origin since early 2012, and thousands more continue to commute regularly between places of origin and places of displacement. Displacement dynamics within the area are complex and include displacement, return and nomadic migration. While relatively stable, gaps in governance, infrastructure, housing, basic services and livelihood opportunities continue to hinder recovery and there remains a risk of inter-communal violence linked to seasonal migration and competition for resources. Without a political agreement on the status of Abyei the affected populations are unlikely to find durable solutions, even in return.

There were an estimated 2.23 million IDPs across Sudan as of the end of 2012, a year marked by tensions and border clashes with South Sudan, the escalation of armed conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile between government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and an increase in violence in Darfur.

Renewed violence, including militia attacks, aerial bombing and inter-communal clashes forced an estimated 90,000 people to flee their homes in Darfur. A total of 1.43 million IDPs were still registered in camps and receiving food assistance in the region, though some returns did take place. The figure is 500,000 down on previous years, following a WFP re-registration process.

Data on internal displacement in South Kordofan and Blue Nile is extremely limited because of access restrictions, but as of the end of the year the two states were estimated to be hosting at least 500,000 and 120,000 IDPs respectively, double the number 12 months previously. There were also around 68,000 IDPs in eastern Sudan as of 2010, the last time figures were made available.

Physical security remains a core protection concern across Sudan. In Darfur, armed groups have attacked camp residents and IDPs, particularly women and girls, face the threat of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape. There was also less access to health services in the camps in 2012 as a result of rising medicine costs and government restrictions on the transport of medical supplies. The joint AU and UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID, struggled to protect civilians and was itself frequently targeted in carjackings, looting and ambushes. In July, its mandate was extended for another year.

Conflict-affected areas of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile experienced worsening food insecurity and malnutrition. In government-controlled areas of the latter two states, the authorities provided some humanitarian assistance with the support of local NGOs and international organisations, mainly in the form of food and non-food items. Humanitarian access, however, remains a primary challenge throughout Sudan, the result of government restrictions, bureaucracy and insecurity.

Ongoing fighting, high levels of insecurity and a lack of basic services in many IDPs' areas of origin are the primary obstacles to return movements.

In Darfur, however, improving security in some parts of the region allowed for the documented return of 91,000 IDPs during 2012, although in some cases the move was only seasonal or partial. It is thought that the majority of remaining IDPs in Darfur would prefer to integrate locally in or near urban centres.

The largest return movement of the year saw 155,000 people who had been internally displaced before the independence of South Sudan going home to their new country. A further 230,000 remain in Sudan. The majority of returnees are able to claim South Sudanese citizenship without too much difficulty, but some who are unable to process the paperwork needed to prove their nationality are at risk of statelessness.

Sudan is a signatory to the Great Lakes Pact, but it is still to sign the Kampala Convention. The country adopted a national policy on IDPs in 2009, but few concrete steps have been taken to implement it and any benefits for IDPs have been limited.

Two memoranda of understanding intended to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in South Kordofan and Blue Nile were not implemented because the government and SPLM-N failed to agree action plans and as a result access continues to be denied. The main armed groups in Darfur continue to reject the Doha Document for Peace, which includes important provisions for durable solutions, and the government is yet to provide the necessary investment to implement it.

The Four Freedoms agreement signed by Sudan and South Sudan in September 2012 should enable citizens of both to travel, live, work and own property in either country. The mechanisms and procedures to implement the agreement were not in place, however, as of the end of the year.

The 2012 CAP humanitarian appeal for Sudan requested more than $1 million, of which only 56 per cent was donated. Protection, which is key for IDPs' access to their rights, was one of the three least-funded clusters.


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