Amnesty International has urged Sudan’s neighboring countries to lift entry restrictions and provide safe passage to individuals fleeing the conflict in the country. The organization called for access to protection and safety for approximately half a million people who fled the battle. Amnesty International interviewed 29 civilians who faced the difficult choice of either returning to the conflict they ran or remaining stranded at the border without basic supplies.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are currently over 563,000 individuals who have crossed the borders, seeking safety and protection from the ongoing crisis in Sudan. Humanitarian groups have emphasized the urgent need for immediate assistance and support in response to the dire humanitarian situation.
The interviews were conducted in locations such as Wadi Halfa, near the border with Egypt, and Port Sudan, a port on the Red Sea. The interviewees also included those who had crossed Sudanese border points at various locations and planned to travel through other countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Chad.
Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southern Africa, emphasized the importance of allowing swift passage across borders for all those fleeing the conflict and providing immediate access to asylum registration to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation along the borders.
The report highlighted the difficulties faced by individuals without valid travel documents or visas. Many have been denied access to safety due to stringent entry regulations, creating insurmountable barriers and leaving them at serious risk. Additionally, some asylum seekers have been denied entry, putting them in danger of being returned to the dangers they were trying to escape.
Amnesty International also documented cases of Sudanese authorities conducting “security vetting” at roadblocks and checkpoints, harassing and threatening those fleeing the conflict. This has made it difficult for people to leave Sudan with ease and has caused delays at the border. The organization received reports of increased trip costs from Khartoum to the border, limiting opportunities for those seeking to escape the violence.
The humanitarian situation along the border crossings in Wadi Halfa and other areas was described as overwhelming. People waiting at the border faced a lack of basic facilities, including shelter, water, and food. The unhygienic environment posed risks to vulnerable individuals, particularly older people and children. Despite the presence of the Red Cross on the Egyptian side of the border, medical assistance was reported to be absent on the Sudanese side.
Egypt, which has received the highest influx of people fleeing the conflict, imposed additional entry restrictions. Sudanese nationals were required to obtain an entry visa from the Egyptian consular office, leading to severe delays and overcrowding at border crossings. Egyptian authorities also discontinued practices that allowed entry for individuals with expired passports and children added to their parents’ passports. Security clearance became a requirement for boys and men aged between 16 and 50 entering Egypt through the Cairo International Airport.
Amnesty International received reports of authorities in Egypt denying entry at land borders to Syrian and Eritrean nationals fleeing Sudan. The organization also obtained satellite images showing a significant increase in the number of vehicles on the Sudanese side of the Argeen border.
The regional refugee response has been largely led by local and locally based organizations, providing support to Sudanese individuals fleeing to neighboring countries. However, the lack of support from the international community has strained the limited resources available in these local communities. Chad and South Sudan have received a significant number of refugees from Sudan, but funding for the regional refugee response remains insufficient.
Amnesty International called on Sudan’s neighboring countries to fulfill their obligations under international human rights law and refugee law by opening their borders to those fleeing the conflict. They emphasized the need for unrestricted access to fair asylum procedures and humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the organization urged Egyptian authorities to ensure that proposed asylum legislation and regulations align with international human rights and refugee law standards.