From 9 to 15 January 2011, South Sudanese voted for their independence, following a decades long war between the North, mostly Muslim, and the South, mostly Christian and a peace agreement signed in 2005. 98.8 per cent of the voters opted for secession, leading to the division of Sudan, biggest country in Africa till then, and the creation of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan.
In the months preceding the referendum, thousands of South Sudanese left Darfur and went back to their homes, which they had fled years before. Many feared a change in their living condition or wanted to be part of their new country.
In December 2010, 548 South Sudanese living in El Fasher, North Darfur, registered to vote. Many attended the Christmas mass at El Fasher church. Many knew that it would certainly be their last mass together in Darfur.
Pictures by Olivier Chassot
© Olivier CHASSOT