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Sudanese Community Profile. Background. The Republic of Sudan is Africa’s largest country. Since independence in 1956, two civil wars have been fought between the north and the south.

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Sudanese Community Profile

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  • The Republic of Sudan is Africa’s largest country.
  • Since independence in 1956, two civil wars have been fought between the north and the south.
  • Refugees are mainly from the south. Since the end of the second war in 2005, many have been unable to return home.
  • Fighting in Darfur, in the country’s west, broke out in 2003. Australia’s caseload does not currently include refugees from the Darfur conflict.

World Factbook

community in australia
Community in Australia
  • There are more than 20 000 Sudan-born people in Australia. The majority have arrived since 2000.
settlement locations
Settlement locations
  • Sudan-born entrants have settled in all states and territories. The largest Sudan-born communities are in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Ninety per cent have settled in the capital cities.
age and gender of sudanese entrants
Age and gender of Sudanese entrants
  • Most Sudanese settlers in Australia are young – 44 per cent are less than 18 years old, 41 per cent are aged 18-34 and 15 per cent are more than 35 years old.
  • 55 per cent of Sudanese settlers are male and 45 per cent female.
family and language
Many Sudanese families are large, and kinship ties are close. Many Sudanese settlers in Australia may be financially supporting relatives in Sudan, or may propose them for entry to Australia.

Almost 80 per cent of Sudan-born entrants described their English proficiency as ‘nil’ or ‘poor’. Fifty per cent spoke Arabic, 17 per cent spoke Dinka, and the remaining 33 per cent spoke other languages or their language was not recorded.

Family and language
  • The majority of Sudan-born entrants identify with one of various Christian denominations, while 12 per cent are Muslims.
sudanese refugees
Sudanese refugees

WFP/Emilia Casella

refugee numbers
Refugee numbers
  • In the two years following the end of the north-south civil war in January 2005:
    • 30 000 southern Sudanese have been repatriated with the help of the UN
    • 70 000 have returned without UN assistance
    • Up to 340 000 remain in refugee camps in countries surrounding Sudan.
  • However, limited infrastructure and continuing violence pose significant challenges to repatriation.
pre arrival experiences
Pre-arrival experiences
  • Many of Australia’s Sudanese migrants have spent years living in refugee camps.
  • Kakuma camp in northern Kenya is typical of these refugee camps, and many of Australia’s Sudanese entrants have spent time there.

WFP/Simon Crittle

kakuma refugee camp
Kakuma refugee camp
  • The camp’s population fluctuates but it generally holds about 80 000 refugees.
  • Water is scarce and residents depend on food aid.
  • There is frequent violence among residents and between residents and the local population, with whom they compete for resources.

Courtesy Oxfam Australia

camp life and services
Camp life and services
  • With limited resources, the UNHCR and NGOs provide what services they can in Kakuma.
  • Disease and malnutrition are common as the quality and supply of medicines and food is limited.
  • Some basic schooling is available but the quality and range of education is poor.

WFP/Francesco Broli

settlement considerations
Settlement considerations
  • In adapting to life in Australia, Sudan-born entrants are likely to experience feelings of dislocation and isolation. They need to adapt to a new location, language and cultural framework.
  • Their everyday life skills may have been extensively eroded by their experiences in refugee camps.
work and education
Although some Sudanese entrants have work skills and experience, many are unskilled. They will require assistance to gain training and employment. This is particularly true of long-term camp residents.

Not all Sudanese are literate, and those who are may be unfamiliar with the Roman alphabet as Arabic has been increasingly used in Sudan.

Children may be unfamiliar with formal schooling and may need assistance moving into the structured classroom environment.

Parents may require encouragement to engage with schools and teachers.

Most Sudanese entrants have limited English language skills and will require interpreting services and English tuition.

Work and education
health considerations
Health considerations
  • Health care in refugee camps tends to be poor.
  • All humanitarian entrants undergo a medical examination as part of the visa application process.
  • They may also undergo pre-departure medical screening and will have documentation associated with this.
  • Many Sudanese will be unfamiliar with a formal health system, western medicine and being treated by a doctor of the opposite sex.
culture family and lifestyle
Culture, family and lifestyle
  • Issues such as clothing styles, different rates of assimilation into Australian society and acquisition of English may cause conflict within families.
  • Finding an appropriate religious community may assist with the settlement process.
  • Suitable accommodation may be difficult to find for larger Sudanese families.
  • Sudanese from rural backgrounds or refugee camps may have no experience of modern lifestyles. They may require assistance with using appliances and utilities, income support systems and accessing public services.
sudan background
Sudan background

WFP/Antonia Paradela

  • Sudan is in Africa’s northeast. It has a Red Sea coastline and borders nine countries:
    • Eritrea
    • Ethiopia
    • Kenya
    • Uganda
    • Zaire
    • Central African Republic
    • Chad
    • Libya
    • Egypt

World Factbook

topography and climate
Topography and climate
  • Sudan has deserts in the north, swamps and flood plains in the south and more fertile land in between, where Khartoum, the capital, is located. The Nile river flows through Sudan from south to north.
  • Sudan is in the tropics. Winter nights can be cool in the north but otherwise temperatures are warm. There is significant rainfall in the south, while the north is much drier.
sudan and australia demographic comparisons
Sudan and Australia: demographic comparisons
  • Sudan’s population is about double that of Australia, at 41 million.
  • Its growth rate of 2.55 per cent per annum is three times that of Australia.
  • The population is young, with the median age being just 18.3 years. The median age in Australia is 36.9.
sudan and australia demographic comparisons21
Sudan and Australia: demographic comparisons
  • The poor quality of medical care and nutrition is reflected in life expectancy and infant mortality figures.
    • At 58.9 years, life expectancy is more than 21 years lower than in Australia.
    • Sudan’s infant mortality rate of 61.05 per 1000 live births is 13 times higher than Australia’s rate of 4.63.
health and nutrition
Health and nutrition
  • Sudan has just 22 doctors for every 100 000 people (Australia has 247).
  • Medical infrastructure generally exists only in urban areas.
  • Medicines are in short supply, although immunisation rates for children are beginning to rise.
  • Malnutrition is common due to famine caused by drought and war. Many people do not have access to safe drinking water.

Courtesy Oxfam Australia

ethnicity and language
Ethnicity and language
  • Sudan is generally considered to have two major ethnic groups – Arabs and black Africans – but there are hundreds of ethnic and tribal subdivisions. The Beja are a group considered distinct from both Arabs and Africans.
  • Sudan’s languages also number in the hundreds. Arabic has recently supplanted English as the most used lingua franca.
  • Islam is the state religion. It is followed by around 65 per cent of Sudanese.
  • About 25 per cent follow traditional indigenous beliefs.
  • The remaining ten per cent are Christian.
  • Muslims predominate in the north while Christians and animists are more prevalent in the south.
family and gender roles
Family and gender roles
  • Sudanese families are often large and kinship ties are close, involving extended families.
  • Marriages are often arranged and may involve payment in cash or property from the groom’s family to the bride’s.
  • Rural gender roles tend to be traditional with women responsible for children and the home, and sometimes managing crops.

WFP/Marcus Prior

  • Women in Sudan wear the toab, a length of material (often colourful) wrapped around the body similar in style to a loose robe.
  • Many men wear western style clothing. Others wear the jalabiya, a wide ankle-length gown.

WFP/Antonia Paradela

  • Sudanese children are meant to attend eight years of primary school and three years of secondary school, but attendance rates are low.
  • There are not enough schools, particularly in the south, and textbooks and other instructional materials are often scarce.

WFP/Simon Crittle

  • Literacy rates for Sudanese aged over 15 have risen from less than 46 per cent in 1990 to nearly 61 per cent in 2004.
  • A significant gap remains between male (71.1 per cent) and female (51.8 per cent) literacy rates.
  • The UN ranks Sudan 141 out of 177 nations in its Human Development Index, measuring factors such as GDP, life expectancy and education.
  • Forty per cent of Sudanese are below the poverty line.
  • The U.S. claimed in 1997 that Sudan was guilty of human rights violations and supporting terrorism. Sanctions imposed that year remain in force.
  • The prospects for future economic growth are hampered by damage to infrastructure from the civil wars.
  • Agriculture employs around 80 per cent of the workforce and accounts for approximately 35 per cent of GDP. Industry makes up about 25 per cent and services 40 per cent.
  • Oil is Sudan’s major natural resource and export.
  • China is Sudan’s major trading partner.
history timeline
History - timeline
  • 1899 – Sudan falls under joint British-Egyptian rule
  • 1956 – Sudan achieves independence. Conflict between northern Arab-dominated government and southern Africans escalates into civil war
  • 1972 - Agreement signed giving the south some autonomy. An uneasy peace ensues
  • 1983 - Some provisions of 1972 agreement rescinded; government attempts to impose Sharia law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The civil war restarts

US Library of Congress

  • 2003-present – A separate conflict erupts in Darfur, in the west. Conflict escalates despite agreed ceasefires and the efforts of a peacekeeping force from the African Union
  • 2005 – the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is signed, ending the north-south civil war by calling for the sharing of power and revenue and the right of the south to self-determination in a referendum to be held in 2011.

US Library of Congress