Sudan is, basically, Africa’s largest nation, which attained its independence in 1956. Since its independence, Sudan has been ravaged by various disasters such as famine, drought and civil war. The civil war in Sudan has been propelled by the Muslim military regimes, which favor Islamic oriented regimes of the Muslims living in the North over the non-Muslims living in the south. Sudan has experienced two major civil wars with the first civil war ended in 1972. It started shortly after Sudan gained its independence. The second civil war, which broke out in 1983, was associated with famine and it was very severe, resulting to about two million dead and over four million displaced individuals. This is the major reason behind the presence of Sudanese refugees in Kenya.
According to the United Nation Convention in 1951, the term refugee refers to any individual living in a country other than his country of nationality, and who is not willing to go back due to fear of persecution based on various factors such as religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or their membership to a given social group. The reasons causing an individual to flee their country might be either imagined or real;thus, it leads to the individual unwillingness or inability to return to his/her homeland (Barutciski, 1998). It is essential to understand that refugees must be residing outside their country of nationality, they must have been forced to flee by fear of persecution, and there must be a likelihood of a return of the threat of persecution on return to their county of origin. They must either be unwilling or unable to look for protection in their country of origin.
An Internally displaced person (IDP) refers to individuals or certain groups of individuals who have been forced to flee their usual abode so as to avoid violent situations; disasters that are human made; armed conflicts that generally do not go beyond an internationally acknowledged State border. It is essential to note that internally displaced persons move involuntarily since the situations do not give the concerned residents any choice other than to leave their residence. Such displacement is a clear indicator of the individuals’ vulnerability since it affects their social-economic, physical, as well as their legal safety.
Internally displaced persons are generally vulnerable in that they may be put into unhealthy situations without their consent; their social organization might be destroyed due to physical displacement, and they may experience psychosocial distress that is associated with the displacement. It may lead to disruption of learning activities, language barrier (when they are displaced to distant areas), and the lack of legal benefits or recognition due to the loss of identity documents that might have been misplaced. Due to such vulnerability, there is a great need of protection of internally displaced persons particularly because these movements are within the borders of a country. IDPs should be protected by the legal authorities of the concerned nation and should be allowed to enjoy rights similar to the rest of the citizens (Vincent, 2000). The Internal Displacement Guiding Principle supports the fact that despite the vulnerability of the IDPs due to their displacement, their right should be fulfilled and respected by the relevant national authorities.
There are various factors that stand in as similarities and differences between IDPs and refugees. The causes of displacement and the effects experienced in both cases of refugees and IDPs are generally similar. The IDPs and refugees normally feel out of place in the places that they seek refuge (Barutciski, 1998). This is mainly caused by the population in their new settlement being from different ethnic groups, or may be speakers of a different language. Both the IDPs and refugees might not feel welcomed by the host population of their new settlement.
The major difference that arises between IDPs and refugees is that IDPs generally remain within the borders of their country of residence while refugees flee outside their country of nationality. The refugees are entitled to international protection and rights according to the internationally binding legal papers, while IDPs cannot claim such rights since they are under the jurisdiction of their country of origin (Vincent, 2000).
The Refugee Convention of 1951 is limited and precise; thus, specifies that the fear of persecution must be well grounded and linked to one of the specified major grounds. The IDPs, however, is broader as it can be caused by various factors including both natural and man-made disaster.
The Sudanese have emerged as to be one of the populations that have suffered decades of genocide, struggle, ethnic cleansing and civil war (Weiss, 1999). These are similar to the experience of the Kurds and thus the great interest of the Kurdish Region in Iraq on the recently independent Southern Sudan nation. Massoud Barzani, the Kurdistan Region President, stated in a letter to the President Salvar Kiir of South Sudan, that the formation of the new country of Southern Sudan was not only important to the Sudanese, but also to all the nations that had struggled for a long time to attain independence.
The number of Kurds in Iraq is approximately a fifth of the total population. There is also a big number of Kurds in Turkey. They could probably have fled to Turkey in search of peace and freedom. There are about 14 million Kurds in Turkey raising fear on the Turkish government of the probability that they might seek independence from Turkey. The Turkish efforts to object the Kurds to attain their independence has gone down with time due to a number of reasons. These reasons are such as the improved relationship between the Iraq Kurdistan government and the government of Turkey. The Turkish companies are dominating the Iraqi Kurdistan economy after rising to be very active.
The most distressing and worse periods to the Iraqi Kurds were around the time when Saddam Hussein was in power. Their rights were infringed as they were attacked with nerve agents as well as mustard gas to wipe them out in 1988. It is essential to understand that the 1920 Treaty of Sevres had provided the Kurds to gain their independence upon an appeal to the League of Nations (Bookman, 1997). After Turkey had recovered the Kurdish areas from the allied powers in 1923, the British intercepted when they realized the oil resources in Northern Iraq. They thus convinced the League of Nations to incorporate Mosul and Kurds resident areas by altering the borders in such a way that the quashing of the Kurdish independence would be possible in both Iraq and Turkey.
The Sudanese refugees living in Kenya are located at the Kakuma Refugee Camp at the northern part of Kenya which was established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR does not cater for the refugees single handedly as it obtains assistance from various groups and NGOs such as the World Food Program (WFP), the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), and the Windle Trust Kenya among others.
The Kakuma Refugee Camp is under Kenya’s jurisdiction, particularly under the Department of Refugee Affairs. The adoption of the 2007 Kenya Refugee Act marked the appointment of a camp manager for the purpose of monitoring all the affairs of the camp and work hand in hand with the humanitarian agencies. This Act is very essential as it gives Kenya the mandate of managing the Kakuma Refugee Camp fully.
The refugees experience various challenges in the camp in Kenya. These challenges include: the harsh environment in the area such as high temperatures; dust storms; malaria outbreaks; and attacks by dangerous animals such as snakes, spiders and scorpions. The refugees are also unable to support themselves economically, basically due to the local environmental conditions and their legal position. They are restricted on seeking jobs and are further weakened economically by the Kakuma’s semi-arid climate that does not support agriculture. Refugees, who are lucky enough to work with the NGOs, receive just a small incentive payment (Jamal, 2000). The refugees in one way or the other are confined in the refugee camp and do not move out without valid passes from the UNHCR. They can neither seek employment nor education outside the camp and thus they get a feeling of being held as prisoners (Jamal, 2000).
The Sudanese are basically the residents of the country of Sudan while the Kurds are a population whose nationality is Iraq or generally the Middle East region. The Kurdistan people were very excited of Sudan’s independence due to various reasons. The major reasons happen to be the similarities that fall in their past experiences in relation to civil wars and struggle for peace and freedom. South Sudan is in the Arab region just like the Kurdistan. Sudan apparently happens to be a British colony just as the Iraq and it also happens to be a county comprised of multi-ethnicity as well as religions. In order to gain liberation from their oppressed situations, both the Sudanese and the Kurdistan Region took arms.
The major difference between the Sudanese and the Kurdistan Region lies in the referendum part that the Sudanese took. The Sudanese were privileged enough to get federalism where the constitution stated that they are given the right to hold a referendum and decide on whether to remain attached to Sudan or break away. The Iraq constitution, however, does not state the right to the Kurdistan Region population to hold such a referendum.
With their high spirit of attaining freedom from their oppressors, the Sudanese refugees and the Kurds are more likely to have a better tomorrow. The attaining of independence of the Southern Sudan is the first visible fruit of the great future that overlooks the Sudanese. With the United Nations ready to lend a hand to assist in times of need, the South Sudan nation will definitely thrive despite the painful past that its people had experienced. The Kurds also see a great future ahead with the independence of South Sudan acting as a motivation of making tomorrow better, free from the shackles of oppression. It is thus appropriate to state that both the Sudanese and the Kurds have fought the war of liberation successfully and have freed themselves.