Southern Sudan: Turnout in referendum reaches 60 percent
21 January 2011

Southern Sudanese grab historic opportunity to determine their own destinies. (Reuters)
In total, JRS directly supports more than 32,000 nursery, primary and secondary school students.

Nairobi, 16 January 2010 – According to officials from the ruling Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), turnout in the referendum has reached 60 percent, the percentage needed to validate the results of the vote on self-determination.

Although no exact figures have been released, it is believed the estimates are based on polling centre reports for the first three days of the week-long vote, which began on 9 January.

Official turnout figures, as well as preliminary results, are not expected until the beginning of February. If voters choose independence, Southern Sudan could become the continent’s newest nation on 9 July 2011.

According to reports from the autonomous region, voting has been relatively peaceful as millions of people made their way to polling booths.

However, violence broke out in the disputed region of Abyei just before the elections when a convoy of southern civilians were attacked on their way home. The UN has boosted controls in Abyei, where an estimated 30 people have died in fighting since 7 January.

In the north of the country, Reuters news agency reported that a senior Sudanese official described the referendum as largely fair and said his party would accept the likely vote for secession the most conciliatory gesture to date from Khartoum.

Rebuilding Southern Sudan

JRS has been working in Southern Sudan since 1997 initially serving internally displaced persons. It currently manages four programmes in the autonomous region, in Lobone, Kajo Keji, Nimule and Yei.

In total, JRS directly supports more than 32,000 nursery, primary and secondary school students, as well as providing training to teachers and civil servants, and support to promote girls education. Moreover, teams finance the distribution of teaching materials and supervise the construction of schools.

In Southern Sudan repatriation and reconstruction has been ongoing since the civil war (1983-2005) between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.

During the war over two million people were killed and four million displaced within Sudan. Almost 500,000 refugees were living outside the country. By the end of 2009, over 325,000 Sudanese refugees had returned to their homes. Although most of them are optimistic about the future, they face tremendous challenges.

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