One day after Sudan’s April 8TH deadline expired, the government began registering Southern Sudanese as foreigners. Majority of them have been stripped of their identity cards and other documents, and most of them don’t have the money to pay the hefty registration fees. Several months ago, after South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan, Sudanese authorities issued an ultimatum to South Sudanese to either become Sudanese citizens, register as foreigners, or leave the country.
The director of foreigners’ registration in Sudan said today only ten South Sudanese arrived at the center yesterday and registered as foreigners. A Brigadier General, who has been instructed not to speak to reporters, said he doesn’t not expect more southerners to show up because registration requires a valid South Sudan passport and a visa, two things most South Sudanese citizens do not own.
Sudanese Information Minister Abdallah Masar said South Sudanese citizens are now considered foreigners. “From today, all South Sudanese are foreigners and they must regularize their status as happens to every foreigner, and we are working on this now, our registration centers are going on” he said.
South Sudan has asked Sudan to extend the deadline, but the government has refused. The spokesperson in the Sudanese Ministry of Information Sana Hamad said South Sudanese wwere given enough time to put their papers in good order. “We will not push the date because we gave them nine months which was enough to reconcile their status, but the government of South Sudan was not serious; all we asked the South Sudanese government to do was to give them necessary documents, now all their Sudanese passports and identity cards are no longer valid”.
The Interior Ministry has asked police stations to register Southerners in various neighborhoods, but scores of police stations told VOA they have never received such orders. Most of the South Sudanese living in Sudan view the registration process as a major obstacle, with little money for passports or traveling back home. Sana said the government has opened a national registration center for Abyei citizens, who live along the border of the two Sudans.
Meantime, international organizations said they are trying to fly elderly and sick people back to South Sudan who have no chance of making home alone.