A large part of the refugees are in a “state of abandonment” at the border crossings
July 6 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The NGO Amnesty International (AI) has urged countries bordering Sudan to “immediately” lift entry restrictions for those fleeing the conflict between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Army.
In addition, it has asked that they guarantee the safety of approximately half a million people who have already fled the country, according to data from the organization.
“Allowing expedited passage across borders for all people fleeing conflict and providing immediate access to the asylum claim record would alleviate the dire humanitarian situation along the borders,” said AI’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Tigere Chagutah.
Civilians who have fled Sudan face the “difficult choice” of returning or remaining stranded at the border, where they are waiting “for an indefinite period” without any basic supplies, 29 interviewees told the NGO.
“States should not deny access to those fleeing conflict on the basis of a lack of identity documents or visas,” said Omar, a 35-year-old man who has been in Port Sudan since the end of April and was unable to leave because he does not have a passport and that he was at the Embassy in Khartoum waiting for a Schengen visa when the conflict broke out.
Some countries denied visa-free Sudanese help to exit the country during the evacuation of their respective citizens from Port Sudan in April.
These restrictions have created “insurmountable barriers” for people at risk. Even asylum seekers have been denied entry.
Those who have managed to flee through “roadblocks and checkpoints” where they were “threatened and harassed” have also faced interrogations by the Sudanese Army at the border, making it difficult for them to leave the country.
Subsequently, these people, who number in the hundreds, have saturated the facilities at border crossings and towns in Qustul and Argeen, near the Sudanese city of Wadi Halfa.
As Osmán, one of the people stranded at the border, described to AI, many of them “were forced to spend the night in the open without adequate shelter, water or food”, and without basic hygiene facilities, so they created an “unsanitary environment”. Although the Red Cross was on the Egyptian side of the border, this assistance was not on the Sudanese side.
Currently, more than 563,000 people have crossed the borders of Sudan, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
MORE THAN 250,000 SUDANESE IN EGYPT
Egypt is the country that has received the most arrivals from Sudan; the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has estimated them at more than 250,000 Sudanese in data updated to June 26.
According to AI, the Egyptian authorities have been demanding a visa issued by the country’s consulate in Wadi Halfa or Port Sudan since June 10, although at the beginning of the conflict they accepted temporary travel documents for women, children under 16 years and men older than 50 years.
After that date, extensions to the validity of expired passports and the permission for parents to add their children to their passports were also annulled.
Starting May 29, they began requiring a security clearance issued at Cairo International Airport for males between the ages of 16 and 50.
On the other hand, the NGO has received reports that the country’s authorities have denied entry by land to Syrians and Eritreans who were also fleeing Sudan.
ACTIONS BY LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
On the other hand, Amnesty has denounced the lack of support from the international community to local organizations that provide support to the Sudanese who have fled, something that aggravates the “already fragile situation that strains the limited resources available in local communities along the borders”.
In addition, so far only 13 percent of the 566.4 million dollars (about 513 million euros) requested by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for the region has been provided.
“All countries must lift restrictions that prevent prompt, safe and dignified entry for all people fleeing Sudan, without discrimination, ensuring that all asylum-seekers have unrestricted access to fair and effective asylum procedures and help humanitarian aid,” Chagutah insisted.