Wednesday, 30 March 2011



By: Moulid Iftin Hujale-Ifo.

Sudanese refugees in Dadaab camps of Kenya have overwhelmingly celebrated the announcements of the results of southern Sudan referendum which was released on 14 February, 2011. They all voted unanimously for separation early January this year.

The results come at a time when Sudanese refugees in Dadaab are facing major challenges in terms of food, security and shelter. Hundreds of them are currently residing in makeshift tents in a transit at IFO camp. They were evacuated from Hagadera camp after conflict erupted between them and the majority Somali community who allegedly accused them of murdering a small boy in July last year.

Like most refugees in Dadaab, hope for going back to their home of origin was just a dream. However, the recent referendum paved the way for a potential struggle for independence. Resettlement to a third country was the only option but today the focus is different. “We now have an identity and a place to call home” says Akaw, a Sudanese youth leader in Ifo.

Following the days when the results were being announced, the Sudanese community has organized a very colorful event/feast to celebrate the outcome of the referendum in which they have chosen to stand as an independent country. The event was graced by agency representatives and community leaders from the diverse ethnic backgrounds living in Ifo camp.

“We are very much excited to celebrate with you today, we lost hope and always dream of America but today we are feeling that there is an ultimate alternative” says Mama Isnino, the overall chairlady of Ifo camp.

They said almost 99% of southern Sudanese voted in favor of secession. However, the official declaration for independence will be announced on July this year. Besides that, there is a long way to go before the new born country stands its own feet.

Announcing the final results is not the end of the process. High profile issues including resources like oil, land demarcation, citizenship, legal matters and the disputed border region of Abyei need to be negotiated.

These celebrations and feasts by the Sudanese communities dwelling in Dadaab have moved the minds of many refugees dwelling in the camps. “The sense of going back to my own country filled my heart” says Haleste, a Somali youth who was invited to attend the event.

With respect to the difference in their culture and religion, the Sudanese community never feasted with the Somali communities who make up to 97% of the population in Dadaab camps. However, the announcement of the results of the referendum and the celebration thereafter served as a bond that united these divergent communities. “We are happy to be with you today but I would like to warn you against tribalism lest your future be ruined.” Says Mr. mussilla, a Congolese leader who was also among the guest invited.

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