Sudan crisis: UN refugee agency urges govts to open borders for displaced persons

THE United Nations refugee agency, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has called on governments to allow civilians fleeing the violence in Sudan into their territories.

According to Reuters, Director of International Protection, UNHCR Elizabeth Tan made the appeal during a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday, May 5.

“We’re advising governments not to return people to Sudan because of the conflict that’s going on there. This applies to Sudanese nationals, to foreign nationals, including refugees who are being hosted in Sudan, stateless persons, as well as those who do not have a passport or any other form of identification,” Tan said.

Following the conflict between rival security forces in Sudan, about 100,000 people have fled towards neighbouring states, according to the United Nations (UN).

About 10,000 Nigerian students were in Sudan at the beginning of the violence.

Efforts to airlift Nigerians out of Sudan directly had been futile as the warring parties failed to heed calls for a ceasefire.

The Nigerian government had to contract buses to evacuate the students out of Sudan to neighbouring countries. The first batch of the Nigerians began their exit from Sudan by road on Wednesday, April 26.

However, countries like Ethiopia denied the fleeing Nigerians access to their country. Egypt had also refused to open its borders to the first batch of fleeing students.

Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri-Erewa said on April 28 that about 7000 persons, including Nigerians, were stranded at the Egyptian border for at least four days due to the refusal of relevant authorities to grant them entry.

According to NIDCOM, the Egyptian authorities had demanded visa fees from the fleeing students upon their arrival at the border.

After several interventions and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with stringent conditions attached, the Egyptian borders were open to Nigerians, and the first batch of evacuees took off from Egypt, landing in Nigeria on Wednesday, May 3.

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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