Sudan: The World's Worst Humanitarian Crisis, USCR Calls for a Referendum on Self-Determination

News and Press Release
Originally published
For Immediate Release
December 21, 1999
Contact: Roger Winter
(202) 347-3507
In the 1999 World Refugee Survey, the U.S. Committee for Refugees reported there are approximately 30 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide. Because they are uprooted, all of these civilian victims of conflict and persecution are intensely vulnerable and are in need of our protection and assistance.

No other contemporary humanitarian tragedy approaches Sudan in terms of human loss of life, and physical destruction.

In this phase of Sudan's conflict, more than 2 million civilians have died war-related deaths. This is the largest civilian death toll in any conflict anywhere in the world since World War II. There are more than 350,000 recognized refugees from Sudan in neighboring countries, 4 to 5 million internally displaced civilians inside Sudan, and more than a million Sudanese "exiles"
in locations that do not generally grant them refugee status. The armed forces of Sudan frequently bomb civilian targets including hospitals and feeding sites; it also routinely denies humanitarian access to organizations seeking to provide relief to conflict victims. Slavery exists, despite assertions to the contrary by Khartoum officials. A whole generation of
young Sudanese in the south are growing up without formal education. An entire culture is being snuffed out in the Nuba Mountains. The infrastructure of much of Sudan is completely destroyed.

All of the people of Sudan are suffering as a result of the war--Northerners, Southerners, Arabs, Africans, Muslims, and non-Muslims. The people of Sudan's south, however, the epi-center of the conflict, are the primary victims. The National Islamic Front government in Khartoum is the primary abuser.

More than anything else, the people of Sudan need a just peace, one that is the result of a genuine political negotiation that squarely confronts and effectively resolves the justice issues that fuel the war. This will not occur until the government of Sudan recognizes that it cannot win the war militarily.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees calls on the Clinton Administration, the United Nations system, and people of goodwill everywhere to recognize the extraordinary horror confronting all of the people of Sudan, to insist that U.S. and international political leaders respond to Sudan's ordeal with the priority it deserves. These leaders must act to implement an internationally supervised referendum that allows the people of south Sudan a genuine opportunity for self-determination on
their own political future.

The 1999 World Refugee Survey is online:
For more information on the refugee crisis in Sudan:

To learn more about USCR, visit our website at:


In this season of giving, please consider helping refugees around the world by supporting the US Committee for Refugees.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees is a private, nonprofit, humanitarian organization that works for the protection
and assistance of uprooted people around the world.