Thousands of Sudanese Stranded on Egypt Border Without Travel Documents Amidst Conflict

by Lucas Garcia
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sudanese refugees

Amidst the ongoing conflict in Sudan, a significant number of Sudanese citizens, including Abdel-Rahman Sayyed and his family, are facing a distressing situation. Initially seeking refuge in their home in Khartoum, the capital, they experienced the harrowing sounds of explosions, gunfights, and warplanes reverberating throughout the city. As the conflict escalated, their two-story home was hit by a shell, leaving it mostly reduced to rubble.

Thankfully, Sayyed, along with his wife and three children, managed to survive and promptly fled the war-torn city. However, they encountered a new predicament—buried under the wreckage of their home were their passports. Consequently, they, along with tens of thousands of others, find themselves stranded at the border with Egypt, unable to enter Sudan’s neighboring country due to the lack of travel documents.

Sayyed expressed his astonishment at the refusal of Egyptian authorities to allow his family entry, believing they would be granted refuge as refugees. The clashes between the rival forces in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan persist, causing the displacement of a staggering number of people. The United Nations reports that the total number of displaced individuals has risen to approximately 2.2 million, with over 500,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries and the remainder finding shelter within quieter regions of Sudan.

According to an anonymous Sudanese migration official, more than 120,000 Sudanese individuals without travel documents are trapped in Wadi Halfa and the surrounding areas. This includes individuals who never possessed a passport, whose passports expired, or were lost during the chaotic exodus. Meanwhile, those who do possess passports but lack visas must endure prolonged waits to secure entry into Egypt. This has resulted in overcrowding, with families struggling to find accommodation and resorting to sleeping on the streets.

Calls for Egypt to waive entry requirements are growing, particularly from organizations like the Sudanese American Physician Association, which advocates for allowing those fleeing the conflict to apply for asylum at the borders. However, instead of easing entry requirements, the Egyptian government recently tightened them. Previously, only Sudanese men aged 16-45 required visas, but as of June 10, all Sudanese citizens are required to obtain electronic visas. Egyptian officials claim that these measures aim to combat visa forgery by groups located on the Sudanese side of the border.

Sayyed and 14 others who fled Khartoum without passports expressed their disappointment and frustration with the June 10 decision, considering it a betrayal to those stranded at the border. Complicating matters further, the passports of some individuals remain trapped in foreign embassies due to ongoing visa applications made before the conflict erupted. With many embassies evacuated, protocols dictate the destruction of these passports to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Acknowledging the burdens faced by those seeking to leave Sudan, the U.S. State Department has assured that diplomatic efforts are being pursued with partner countries to find a solution. Sayyed and his family, like many others, have sought refuge in Wadi Halfa, relying on humanitarian aid from charitable organizations and the local community to survive. Sayyed visits Sudanese immigration authorities and the Egyptian Consulate daily, alongside numerous others, in hopes of obtaining the necessary travel documents or visas. However, their chances remain slim unless the border is opened.

Al-Samaul Hussein Mansour, a Sudanese-British national, unintentionally left his travel documents behind during his hasty escape from Khartoum. He chose not to evacuate with other British citizens, anticipating that the clashes would subside within a few days. Seeking temporary respite in the western Darfur region, he eventually made his way towards the Egyptian border as the fighting persisted. Ibn Sina Mansour, his younger brother and a British citizen himself, highlighted the danger of returning to Khartoum due to ongoing street battles and the risk of stray bombs and bullets.

Among the stranded individuals are three brothers from Omdurman, a neighboring city of Khartoum, who lost their passports or never possessed them. Sadly, they were separated from their parents and five sisters, who managed to enter Egypt in early May. The father, Salah al-Din al-Nour, laments the war’s destructive impact, emphasizing that innocent families like theirs have no involvement in the power struggle that has ravaged Sudan and its people.

The situation remains dire for these individuals stranded on the Egypt border, desperately hoping for a resolution. Matthew Lee, a writer for Big Big News, contributed to this report from Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about sudanese refugees

Q: Why are thousands of Sudanese people trapped on the border with Egypt?

A: Thousands of Sudanese people are trapped on the border with Egypt due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan. They are without travel documents, making it difficult for them to cross into Egypt and seek refuge. The lack of passports, expired passports, or lost passports during the escape have left them stranded at the border.

Q: How many people have been displaced due to the fighting in Sudan?

A: The total number of displaced individuals has risen to approximately 2.2 million. Out of this number, more than 500,000 have crossed into neighboring countries, while the rest have taken refuge in quieter parts of Sudan itself.

Q: Why are Sudanese refugees unable to enter Egypt?

A: Sudanese refugees are facing entry restrictions imposed by the Egyptian government. Previously, only Sudanese men aged 16-45 needed visas, but now all Sudanese citizens are required to obtain electronic visas. The tightened measures aim to combat visa forgery and ensure security at the border.

Q: Are there any efforts to help the stranded Sudanese refugees?

A: Diplomatic efforts are being made by various countries, including the United States, to find a solution for those stranded at the border. Calls have also been made for Egypt to waive entry requirements and allow the fleeing Sudanese to apply for asylum at the borders.

Q: What challenges do the Sudanese refugees face while waiting at the border?

A: The Sudanese refugees face numerous challenges while waiting at the border. Many of them lack proper accommodation and are forced to sleep on the streets. Additionally, obtaining travel documents or visas can be a lengthy process, leaving them in a state of uncertainty and dependence on humanitarian assistance.

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