Thousands of Sudanese Trapped at Egypt Border Without Travel Documents Amid Ongoing Conflict
A severe humanitarian catastrophe has developed from the outbreak of conflict in Sudan in mid-April, leaving thousands of Sudanese people detained at the Egyptian border without travel documents. These people are displaced due to the bloody conflicts between opposing factions in Khartoum and other areas of Sudan and are unable to enter Egypt, which is their neighbour. Numerous internal displacements are occurring, and the violence has already killed hundreds of lives. This page outlines the situation of the afflicted people, the difficulties they encounter, and the rising demands for assistance from abroad.
Abdel-Rahman Sayyed and his family found themselves caught in the crossfire in Khartoum, seeking refuge in their home as the sounds of explosions and gunfights echoed throughout the city. Unfortunately, their home was hit by a shell, leaving it in ruins. While the family managed to survive, their passports were buried under the wreckage, rendering them unable to cross the border into Egypt.
Trapped at the Border
Alarming numbers of people have been displaced by the crisis; since combat started on April 15, almost 2.2 million people have left their homes. Out of this number, more than 120,000 Sudanese without travel documents are stuck in Wadi Halfa and the nearby areas while frantically looking for a means to flee the unrest. The difficulty for people to collect their travel documents is made worse by the fact that Khartoum’s embassies, where many passports were kept, have been evacuated.
Challenges and Calls for Assistance
The flood of displaced Sudanese has put a strain on the town of Wadi Halfa, which typically only has a few tens of thousands of residents. The Egyptian Consulate in the city must issue visas to those with valid passports; due to the great demand, this procedure can take days or more. As a result, many families are forced to sleep on the streets because they lack adequate housing or food. The need for Egypt to relax entry restrictions and permit the fleeing Sudanese to request refuge at the border is growing.
Egypt’s Response and Struggles for Documentation
Contrary to predictions, Egypt recently tightened its entry restrictions for Sudanese people, making it much harder for those without travel permits to find asylum. To prevent visa fraud by organisations on the Sudanese side of the borders, the new regulations now require electronic visas for all Sudanese. Those stranded at the border, who had hoped for more liberal tactics, have been disappointed and frustrated by this decision.
People looking for new or replacement travel documents face substantial challenges due to the absence of operating immigration offices and the destruction of passports in embassies. Due to the ongoing violence, the main immigration office in Khartoum has suspended operations. As a result, the Wadi Halfa branch has limited access to computer records and is unable to issue new passports or replace lost ones.
The Plight of Families and Individuals
The dire situation at the border has resulted in families being separated, with some members managing to enter Egypt while others remain trapped. For individuals like Al-Samaul Hussein Mansour, a Sudanese-British national, leaving travel documents behind during the escape from the conflict has left them stranded. It is too dangerous for them to return to Khartoum to retrieve their passports due to the continued violence and the threat of stray bombs and bullets.
Due to the continuous turmoil in Sudan, thousands of Sudanese citizens are detained at the Egyptian border without the appropriate travel credentials for their safe passage, creating a humanitarian disaster. The need for aid and support from the international community is critical as the number of displaced people keeps growing in order to lessen the suffering of those affected by the conflict. To address the difficulties people detained at the border are facing and to ensure their safety and wellbeing during this turbulent period, immediate action is required.