Some Christians may lose citizenship in Sudan

By March 23, 2012

Sudan (MNN) — Hundreds of thousands of people face an uncertain future in Sudan. Many who live in the north may have move to the south.

Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope explains. "People of South Sudan ancestry, who may have been living for generations in the north, will lose their citizenship and may be forced to leave on perhaps very short notice. These are rumors. They may come true. It's also perceived by some that they may be posturing."

Sudan and South Sudan are in negotiations about imports and immigration issues. Some reports suggest an agreement had been reached allowing citizens in either country to live, work, and own property on either side of the new international border and travel between the two nations without any pre-conditions attached to their activities.

However, a recent Barnabus Fund report indicates an estimated 500,000-700,000 people of South Sudanese descent have lost their Sudanese citizenship and are forced to repatriate by to South Sudan.

Since many of these people are Christians, DeYoung says this has had a negative impact on the church in the north. "People who were born there and never lived anywhere else have been leaving for the last year and a half, anticipating this could happen. So there are a lot of churches there that have been de-populated of their members."

It's also caused a population boom in South Sudan, which brings with it additional problems: food, housing and job shortages.

DeYoung says his ministry is tackling an issue that's been a problem for years. "Words of Hope broadcasts in both Dinka and Nuer languages, and also in the Bari language. We're definitely emphasizing peace and reconciliation among the different tribal groups," especially as South Sudanese return to their homeland.

Words of Hope is using shortwave radio transmitters to broadcast into the country, but their broadcasts are also on local radio stations that are going up. DeYoung says, "A number of these stations are Christian. Most of them are very friendly to putting Christian programming on the air. So, there's a lot about it that's very interesting and very encouraging, but it's still one of the poorest areas of the world."

To help support Words of Hope's broadcasts into Sudan, click here.

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