Choose a country
These statistics refer to the unified country of Sudan prior to South Sudan gaining independence in July 2011. With the significant movement of people that has occurred there are currently no reliable figures available for the separate nations.
Christians and the Struggle for Religious Freedom
A vital booklet about religious freedom to inform, inspire and challenge you. Includes an explanation of what religious freedom means and examples of the challenges Christians face in our Persecuted and Forgotten? 2012 update.Get the book or download your copy
Latest news from Sudan and South Sudan
- SOUTH SUDAN: Church mourns heroic Bishop Akio, who led his people through civil war
- UNITED KINGDOM: Making music to help educate Sudan's suffering Christians
- UNITED KINGDOM: George's six-day walk for Sudanese school children
- SUDAN: Young Christians living in fear of abduction by militia
- UNITED KINGDOM: Walking the West Highland Way for Sudan's Schools
Sudan and South Sudan - Country profile
The March 2012 arrest of actor George Clooney for civil disobedience during a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC, USA, demonstrated the scale of concern about a new humanitarian crisis looming over Sudan and South Sudan.
Reports both from Clooney and elsewhere made clear that Christians were among the worst to suffer. The Hollywood actor's brief detention followed a rally at which he spoke out against state-sponsored violence alongside a Sudanese bishop forced into exile as a result of persecution.
Anglican Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, of Kadugli,South Kordofan reported that in raids on his diocese, churches had been looted, priests attacked and church buildings burnt to the ground, including his cathedral, guesthouse, and the bishop's house.
Attacks on churches and Christian leaders formed part of an upsurge of violence and oppression affecting not just South Kordofan but elsewhere in what is now Sudan and South Sudan.
Return to war?
Renewed violence began just months after South Sudan’s 9th July 2011 independence. In many areas on the new border between the countries, violence erupted in summer 2011, affecting Damazin in the Blue Nile State as well as South Kordofan. In the latter case, the conflict became increasingly protracted.
In April 2012 skirmishes over a oil producing Heglig area near the border, raised fears of a return to war. The violence was reminiscent of the deadly 1983-2005 civil war, which left three million dead and up to five million displaced.
George Clooney, who visited the disputed border region in March 2012, verified first-hand reports that aerial bombardments by the Sudanese airforce were causing misery in the Nuba mountains.
Sustained bombings have driven tens of thousands of civilians into caves. Civil society leaders estimated that 350,000 have been displaced and as many as 100,000 have sought refuge in caves.
Human Rights Watch has said that the Sudan military is conducting indiscriminate bombings against civilians in the Nuba Mountains.
Bishop Macram Max Gassis agreed with this assessment, saying: “The bombs have not been falling on the soldiers… They have been falling on the women and children and the elderly.
“At the moment there is nobody in the Nuba Mountains except the Catholic Church.”
Mass exodus to the South
Meanwhile, President Omar al-Bashir's regime in Khartoum tried to impose its Arab-Islamist vision, tightening up enforcement of Shari'a law. Reports have come in of women whipped for not wearing head veils and violence against people accused of Christian 'evangelisation'. Christians fled Khartoum and made for their tribal and ancestral homelands in the South.
Even those in Sudan with roots in the South who wished to remain in the north were required to obtain identity cards for citizenship of the South. It was reported that their number included up to 700,000 Christians. Most of them lacked the means to travel to the South, necessary to obtain the permits.
Human rights observers condemned the Khartoum government's policy as tantamount to forcing people out of the country on ethnic and religious grounds.
Problems facing the South
In South Sudan, the arrival of so many displaced people has put huge pressure on the new government in a country largely if not completely without the infrastructure to cater for such a vast influx of people.
Renewed violence was also reported in the South, including attacks on Christian communities, amid signs of continued collusion of local rebels with the Lord's Resistance Army, allegedly backed by Khartoum.
'Massive deterioration' for Christians
Taken as a whole, over the last 12 months, the situation for Christians in the area, especially in Sudan, massively deteriorated. Indeed, human rights organisation Open Doors announced in early 2012 that worsening oppression over the past two years had causedSudanto climb 19 places to 16th in its league table of Christian persecution.
Leading Catholic bishops were warning that problems were likely to worsen, particularly in the short term. Such problems were, they said, a particular cause for concern if the Khartoum regime applies force in its renewed pursuit of an Arab and Islamist Sudan. In that case, the fear was that people with roots in other countries and adhering to other religions would become at best second class citizens.
A solid foundation for a better future
An entire generation in Sudan has grown up knowing little else but suffering, and for those refugees who fled from the South, the Catholic Church has been their only help. Thanks to your kindness, a preparation course in the seminary of St Paul in the capital, Khartoum, is providing candidates with a solid foundation for their future studies and vocation.
Support for the minor seminary in the diocese of Rumbek
As Christians in South Sudan, the world's youngest country, strive to build a new life for themselves, priests have a vital role to play. Father Marcellus tells us of his gratitude for your support for the minor seminary in Rumbek, which was rebuilt from scratch after being destroyed in the civil war. "We pray that the Lord may bless these young men, and strengthen their resolve to become priests for Sudan. Please be assured of our ceaseless prayers for our precious benefactors."
Helping young people to travel to the World Youth Day in Madrid
John from Khartoum explains what being able to go to World Youth Day means for young people in Sudan: “We sense that we are not alone in the world but are part of this great and wonderful encounter, which transcends even geographical frontiers.” Thanks to you, 36 young people from North and South Sudan were able to take part in WYD 2011.
A Sturdy Vehicle for the Franciscan Sisters
The Franciscan Sisters are carrying out vital work helping the poor in Wau diocese, South Sudan, where more than 90 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day. Some Sisters tend to the sick, others teach in schools. And now the Sisters can go out to help the poor in their own villages – thanks to you, we have provided an all-terrain vehicle to cope with the appalling road conditions. Make Donation
Citizenship guaranteed… with a little help from you
The Khartoum regime in the north has insisted that citizens with ancestral homelands in the south return there to register as citizens of South Sudan. This includes many priests and religious working in the north. Your generosity has helped 174 priests, Sisters, brothers and seminarians to obtain the paperwork they need to continue their vital ministry in Sudan. Make Donation
Mass stipends – a spiritual lifeline
Thanks to your kindness, 1,800 Mass stipends have been given to priests in Wau diocese, South Sudan, with another 1,000 going to Malakal diocese, in the troubled border area. Attending Mass is very important to the faithful in Sudan and South Sudan – often people walk for two hours and more to get to Mass. Make Donation
Helping them carry the Cross
The faithful are walking a particularly painful way of the Cross as they flee violence along the Sudan-South Sudan border. You have helped us make an emergency grant of £32,000 to the Comboni Missionaries so that they can distribute food including rice, grain, sugar, lentils and oil. Sister Margaret wrote: “Thank you for your generosity, for sharing with us and making our lives easier.” Make Donation
Christian education for all
Catholic education is crucial to maintaining the Christian presence in Sudan. Thanks to you, young girls from displaced Christian families in Khartoum are now receiving food aid and schooling, following a desperate appeal from Sisters committed to their care. An aid package of £20,000 provides food for the girls and their families, as well as teachers’ salaries, computers and tables. Make Donation
Persecution and unrest in Sudan
October 2010: A man with a dagger ran towards Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako during a Mass in the city. Before he reached the cardinal, the man was intercepted by the prelate's Master of Ceremonies, who handed him over to police. Read more
October 2010: Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro highlighted concerns about the country's security situation in the run-up to the referendum on possible secession of South Sudan, saying: “If the referendum goes well, it will bring peace to a country which has suffered almost five decades of brutal civil war. If however the referendum does not deliver a credible result, then Sudan will descend into violence and instability which will affect the whole region.”
December 2010: Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, wrote to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague warning of the "potential for widespread violence" in southern Sudan ahead of the referendum. Read more
January 2011: Voters went to the polls in the long-awaited referendum, with Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum observing: “The referendum has been conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.”
February 2011: Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan called for a fresh drive to tackle the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) guerrilla faction. It came amid a spate of killings and abductions carried out by the LRA, including the murder of a 37-year-old Sister. Read more
April 2011: Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum stressed that violent outbreaks in South Sudan that left hundreds dead would not derail the independence process. Read more
June 2011: Nimeri Philip Kalo, a seminarian from St Paul’s Major Seminary, Khartoum, on pastoral placement in South Kordofan, was detained near the United Nations Mission inSudanin Kadugli’s al Shaeer area and shot dead by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) inteliigence officers in front of bystanders. He was fleeing Kadugli with other Christians after militia loyal to the SAF attacked and looted at least three churches in the town. A source said: “They shot him in front of our eyes and forced us not to cry, or else we would face the same fate.” On the same day, Islamic militants loyal to the SAF slaughtered a young Christian man, Adeeb Gismalla Aksam, 33. (Source: CDN, 17 June 2011)
July 2011: As South Sudan came into being, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan stressed that a spirit of celebration should be tempered by renewed efforts to tackle conflicts both within the new country and north of it. Fears of a return to war were growing after fighting in two border regions – oil-rich Abyei and South Kordofan where, according to reports, 170,000 people had been forced from their homes. Read more
July 2011: Aid to the Church in Need’s UK director called for urgent action as thousands of civilians in the disputed region of South Kordofan on the border with South Sudan, came under fire in attacks that have also targeted churches. Read more
September 2011: As military strikes against civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State reportedly continued in spite of a ceasefire, The Church offered emergency aid to those fleeing the conflict. Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum made an urgent plea for peace amid reports that within one month 25,000 people had fled to escape fighting and aerial bombardments in Blue Nile State. Read more
November 2011: Sudan's Catholic bishops have issued a formal warning about the threat of a return to full-scale civil war: "We are deeply troubled by the ongoing violence in our two nations [Sudan and South Sudan]. "War has broken out in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan State and Blue Nile State... "We have constantly warned of the danger of a return to hostilities if the legitimate aspirations of the people were not met." Read more
December 2011: Christian teenager Hilba Abdelfadil Anglo said she had forgiven the gang of extremists who had kidnapped her and carried out physical and sexual attacks. In June 2010 the then 15-year-old girl was abducted before being beaten unconscious. She was held in Khartoum and her abductors threatened to kill her if she tried to escape. After she managed to escape, police told her they would not investigate unless she converted to Islam (Source: Intrenational Christian Concern/Voice of the Martyrs, 22 December 2011)
January 2012: Father Joseph Makwey, in his 40s, and Father Sylvester Mogga, in his mid-30s, were seized by men who smashed through the gates and broke down the presbytery door at their parish compound in Rabak town, south of Khartoum. Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum said Sudan militants were intimidating people originally from what is now South Sudan, pressuring them to leave the north. He also criticised the Khartoum government for appearing to brush off the kidnappings. Read more
February 2012: Heiban Bible College in South Kordofan was bombed on the first day it opened for classes. Nobody was hurt. Eye-witnesses reported that it took four fly-over passes before the building with its cross on the top was hit. The Sudanese Air Force reportedly carried out the attack. In the previous six months four churches were destroyed by bombing action. Source: Voice of the Martyrs, 25 February 2012)
March 2012: Attacks on the Nuba Mountains, allegedly carried out by Sudan government armed forces, were aimed at ridding the area of Christians, according to an aid worker. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the aid worker reported that, while Muslims were also under attack, churches and Christians were especially targeted. (Source: CDN, 20 March 2012)
April 2012: An Islamist mob set light to a Catholic church in Khartoum frequented by Christians with roots in what is now South Sudan. Witnesses and several newspapers said a mob of several hundred torched the church, shouting insults at “Southerners”. The church, inKhartoum’s Al-Jiraiff district, was reportedly built on a disputed plot of land. Commentators said the incident was related more to the fall-out from ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudanover an oil-rich town in a disputed border area. (Source Associated Press, 22 April 2012)
Last updated: 06/07/2012