Posted Dec 12, 2010 @ 04:00 PM
Last update Dec 13, 2010 @ 11:11 AM
From 1956 to 2005, with a brief hiatus in the 1970s, the people of South Sudan fought a war against Sudan’s Khartoum regime in which two million South Sudanese died and another four million were displaced.
Between now and Jan. 9 the mostly black and Christian South will be voting on whether to secede from the union with the mostly Arab and Muslim North that was imposed on them more than a century ago by the British colonial power. Most observers believe that when the votes are counted South and North Sudan will be two separate countries.
The peace agreement brokered by the Bush administration in 2005 ended the civil war and set the referendum on secession that will now be taking place. Sudanese refugees living in other countries, including the United States, are permitted to vote.
The International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental organization that implements the world’s orderly refugee movement, is overseeing the vote here and in other diaspora countries. Arlington has been selected as one of several American registration and voting sites.
The South Sudanese Community Center, where the voting will be held, is home to The Sudanese Education Fund, which assists the Sudanese refugee community with educational stipends, tutoring, women’s programs, childhood enrichment programs and other services.