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Page last updated at 06:40 GMT, Monday, 9 April 2012 07:40 UK

South Sudan progress 'under threat'

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Uncertainty and confusion face an estimated half a million ethnic South Sudanese after the deadline passed for them to leave Sudan or formalise their status in the country without the president's of both countries signing an agreement.

The 8 April time limit ended a grace period after South Sudan separated last July in the wake of an overwhelming "yes" vote in an independence referendum that followed Africa's longest civil war. While hundreds of thousands have already returned to the country, an estimated 500,000 others remain in Sudan, waiting for clear direction on what to do.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan will be travelling to Southern Sudan to take a closer look at many of these ongoing issues.

And William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, who chairs the cross-party parliamentary group on Sudan, told the Today programme's James Naughtie that these people are under threat and there is huge doubt over what will happen to the nationality of these 500,000 people.

He said there has been a mixed picture because the deadline was yesterday but the agreement was not signed by both presidents so there is no clarity as to what will happen.

"When you have seen the difficulties that 300,000 returnees to South Sudan have experienced already... it's small wonder that the United Nations has said there is likely to be a humanitarian crisis this year," he said.

He said that the state of the South Sudanese economy in oil being cut off and austerity measures being put into place means that all of the progress is now under threat.


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