(Massive inconsistency in information in absence of official statements, massive displacement of civilians, congestion at Egyptian border crossings, a severe shortage of water and services, absence of international organizations and delays in media coverage)
We are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe with the continuation of the armed conflict in Sudan and the non-compliance of the two parties to the armistice. Due to the aftermath of the conflict and severe shortages of food, water, medicine, shelter, and other necessities; hundreds of thousands of people are currently in urgent need of safe passage and havens. There are challenges in accessing basic needs and moving to a neighboring country, particularly Egypt, can be terrifying.
There is an urgent need for a UN relief presence at and nearby the border crossings. In order to enter into neighboring nations, people on the move need accurate and official information.
Who is permitted to cross into Egypt?
In light of the severe inconsistency and spread of false and unverified information, as well as the lack of official data clarifying the procedures and conditions for entry and crossing through the Egyptian-Sudanese land crossings, here we provide a summary of the information that RPE monitored directly about crossing to Egypt from the Sudanese side by land:
- Since the 23rd of April morning, the number of displaced Sudanese and non-Sudanese towards the Egyptian border increased in an attempt to cross to the Egyptian side via land ports.
- The border authorities allowed women, children and men under 16 and over 50 years of age to cross, provided they have a valid passport for more than 6 months and yellow fever vaccination cards. The crossing is accomplished by receiving an entry stamp upon arrival at the Egyptian side and paying an amount of 25 US dollars.
- Men between the ages of 16 and 50 with valid passports for more than six months are required to obtain a previous entrance visa. The visa is obtained and issued by the Egyptian consular office in Wadi Halfa, which was closed for Eid al-Fitr.
- People in Wadi Halfa reported that the visa procedures were extended for days.
- The authorities allowed the passage of holders of British, American and Gulf countries passports, as well as people with domicile in any of these countries, without the requirement for a prior entrance visa.
- According to the reports of individuals who crossed into Egyptian land, they waited at the crossings for significant periods of time, ranging from 10 hours to a whole day.
- Border authorities asked those holding Qatari residency to issue a transit visa.
- News circulating- and RPE viewed a scanned copy of an official document, but it has not been verified yet – about a Sudanese decision to renew expired passports or those with less than 6 months remaining on the Sudanese side at border crossings, and to add children under sixteen who do not hold a passport on the passports of their relatives.
- In light of the widespread dissemination of inaccurate information, the Refugees Platform in Egypt issued an urgent statement on April 23 calling on Egyptian authorities to announce the extent to which Sudanese nationality holders are allowed to enter Egypt, how it is done, and the conditions required to cross into or through Egypt.
- As of writing the report, the Egyptian authorities have not issued any official statements about the possibility and extent of allowing the various cases of Sudanese and others to enter Egypt and the procedures for that.
- The Egyptian Ministry of Transport said that the total returnees from Sudan Of all nationalities through the Egyptian land crossings during the period from 12-25 April 2023, (1297 returnees) via Qastal land port, and (8897 returnees) through Arqin border crossing, with a total of 10,000 and 194 people, without an explanation of the procedures and types of cases that were allowed to cross or the extent to which services are provided during waiting times at the border crossings, and the statement did not refer to any of the current procedures or future dealing plans.
- There is no clear information or official statements about how and to what degree Syrian and Palestinian nationals residing in Sudan are permitted to cross.
- There are no information or official statements regarding the status of refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities who reside in Sudan in this capacity and do not hold passports.
- The External Relations Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, Christine Beshay, told the Spanish News Agency that they are “in talks with the Sudanese community in Egypt to continue verification and identifying the needs and support that society and the Egyptian government need to manage any influx of asylum seekers.” She also stated that UNHCR does not have “exact numbers” of how many people have begun to arrive in Egypt and that they are currently checking the received cases.
Chaotic conditions on the Egyptian-Sudanese border, the absence of relief and international organizations, and the start of media coverage on Wednesday:
- Overcrowding at the Egyptian-Sudanese border crossings, with reports from various regions indicating an increase in arrivals in the coming days, along with delays in completing the crossing procedures at the Egyptian borders (testimonies say that it may extend to days), some testimonies indicate that they stood at the crossings for three days.
- The processing of crossing requests is very slow and there are no places equipped to wait. Many women, children and the elderly sit on the floor for days without food or medicine.
- Many sick cases need special and urgent care while waiting on both sides of the border, especially on the Sudanese side.
- Except for the statement made by the Ministry of Transport regarding the number of arrivals, the Egyptian government has not yet released any statements outlining methods for receiving the displaced or contingency plans. Neither have any international relief organisations established branches in response to them at or near the crossings, with the exception of the Egyptian Red Crescent, which announced Establishing a service and relief point at the Arqin land port on the Egyptian side to address the situation.
- The nearest office is in Cairo, and neither the UNHCR nor the IOM have any operating offices at or close to border crossings.
- No exceptional measures have been announced for the crossing of the injured or sick until now.
- After very long and exhausting journeys, those arriving at the Egyptian-Sudanese border reported an acute shortage of water, food and medicine at the crossing points.
- There are reports of overcrowding in reception places and hotels on the Egyptian side of the border.
- Despite the dissemination of hateful and anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent days on social media in an organized manner, large-scale campaigns have been launched on an individual basis or voluntary initiatives to provide support and assistance to Sudanese who have recently arrived in Egypt.
- Nubian people launched a campaign to host Sudanese arrivals to Egypt.
- Mersal Foundation announced the availability of medical support services, medicines and infant formula for newly arrived, by calling the emergency number.
- Initiatives started to be launched to help those coming from Sudan.
- Shubra Archive welcomes those coming from Sudan in its educational session.
The journey is fraught with great dangers, with reports of looting money and valuables from those attempting to flee Sudan, the death of an Egyptian youth due to a lack of insulin, and the Syrian tv affiliated with al-Assad regime news reported the killing of 11 Syrian refugees at the hands of a Sudanese militia:
- From different testimonies from separate movement points, we monitored a sharp increase in transportation prices for buses carrying survivors towards the border. On April 23, the cost of the trip was 40,000 Sudanese pounds per person (about $70) for a bus carrying 50 passengers at a total cost of $3495, the cost increased on the next day until it reached 220,000: 250,000 Sudanese pounds per passenger, or about (384: 436 $), so that the cost of the bus would be (21,834: 19,214 $). This was confirmed by a report issued on Wednesday, April 26th, about the increase in the cost of the trip to 500 dollars per person. The same trip cost 75 dollars per person before the start of the armed conflict.
- Incidents have been reported of armed persons seizing money and passports from those trying to cross towards the border areas. “Orient Net” reported the killing of a Syrian refugee, Omar Arrata, by an armed Sudanese militia while he was trying to leave Sudan.
- We have monitored complaints about the poor connection of telephone networks and the Internet, which makes it difficult for people to check on each other during the journey or upon arrival at the crossing border points, or to communicate with their families.
- A few days ago, people used to take buses to Aswan or private cars, but the bus prices have increased more than ten times, and many complaints are due to the severe shortage of fuel.
- The Syrian television network of the al-Assad dictatorship reported the killing of 11 Syrian nationals in Sudan by an armed militia while fleeing.
Trapped in Sudan… Evacuation plans continue, and the Egyptian MFA announces moving the diplomatic staff from Khartoum to another place in Sudan.
- On the morning of April 24th, Egypt announced the start of evacuation procedures for its people in Sudan. According to an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, 436 Egyptian people were evacuated through Sudan’s land borders on the same day.
- Ambassador Ahmed Abu Zaid, the official spokesman for the MFA, said that “a member of the Egyptian embassy was actually shot,” without further details, and urged everyone to exercise utmost caution.
- The Egyptian government announced the death of an assistant administrative attaché at the Egyptian Embassy in Sudan, Mohamed Al-Gharawi, on his way to the Egyptian embassy.
- In another statement, the MFA announced the establishment of an operations room to follow up and communicate with Egyptians in Sudan and their families and allocated the following hotlines: ( 01281943533 – 01283176900 – 01281943599 – 01283176866 – 01283176913 – 01283176857 – 01283176881 – 01283176903 – 01283176894 – 01281943990 )
- Testimonies of Egyptians stranded in conflict zones witnessed shooting towards their shelters and appeals for their evacuation.
- Egyptian students in Sudan appealed to the Egyptian government to evacuate the body of the Egyptian student, Saber Nasr El-Din, to bury him in his hometown in Assiut Governorate, after his death, as a result of his inability to secure the dose of insulin he needed. Later, his father announced the start of burial procedures in Khartoum, after the failure of attempts to take his body to his hometown.
- On April 24th evening, the Egyptian MFA announced the evacuation of 134 and 334 Egyptian citizens from Sudan in two successive phases. Thus, the total number of those evacuated is 904 Egyptian citizens.
- On April 25th evening, the Egyptian government announced that the evacuations would continue to a total of 1539 Egyptians so far, while nearly ten thousand Egyptians are still inside Sudan.
- Egyptian drivers trapped inside Sudan issue an SOS.
- The Egyptian MFA, April 26: “Transferring members of the Egyptian diplomatic and consular mission and the technical offices of the embassy from Khartoum and repositioning it in another location in Sudan, so that it can follow up on the implementation of the national plan to evacuate the Egyptians stranded there, as circumstances require.”