Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on the occasion of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan
9 June 2011 --On this historic occasion of the Republic of South Sudan becoming an independent country, UNHCR joins with other international organizations and people the world over to welcome the newest member of the family of nations.
The approximately 350,000 former refugees who have returned to South Sudan over the past six years and the thousands of southerners joining them from elsewhere in Sudan will play a key role in securing the conditions for the new state to prosper, none being more important than peace.
I am particularly pleased that the Parliament of South Sudan has recently passed a Nationality Bill, which should help to prevent statelessness as the new state emerges. I am hopeful that the Government of Sudan will likewise adopt policies minimizing the risk of statelessness for individuals remaining in the north and continue its long tradition of generosity to refugees from other countries.
I would like to extend to President Salva Kir and the people of South Sudan not only UNHCR’s congratulations on this momentous day but our ongoing commitment to support the return and reintegration of those who will call South Sudan home.