The United States on Wednesday granted “temporary protected status” for Sudanese nationals in the country and extended the same designation for South Sudanese citizens, as the two countries face political upheaval and conflict.
“Sudan is currently experiencing political instability and unrest, and armed conflict in South Sudan has displaced millions of residents,” US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
“I have decided to offer temporary protection to Sudanese and South Sudanese nationals in the United States until conditions in each country improve and individuals can safely return.”
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The US government grants temporary protected status, or TPS, to citizens of countries facing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions, effectively shielding them from deportation.
The designations announced Wednesday apply to Sudanese and South Sudanese nationals who have been in the US since March 1 and last for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statement said.
Sudan has been rocked by protests in which at least 84 people have been killed since a military coup last October, which derailed a fragile power-sharing arrangement between the army and civilians that was negotiated after the 2019 ouster of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Inter-communal violence in southern and western states as well as internal displacement and food and water shortages also contributed to Sudan’s designation.
The immigration status of Sudanese nationals in the US has been under a pall of uncertainty in recent years, after the administration of former president Donald Trump sought to end TPS status for several countries, including Sudan.
The designation was stripped in November 2018, but litigation over the move has meant TPS status for Sudanese nationals has remained in place.
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, has suffered from chronic instability since independence in 2011, including a brutal five-year civil war.
The country has continued to lurch from crisis to crisis even after a 2018 peace deal, battling flooding and hunger as well as violence and political bickering as the promises of the peace agreement have failed to materialize.
Unprecedented flooding that has spurred humanitarian crises in both countries was also cited as reason for the TPS designations.
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