The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday urged States to keep borders open to people fleeing military infighting across Sudan and suspend “negative asylum decisions” for Sudanese nationals outside the country, who cannot return because of the conflict.
Elizabeth Tan, UNHCR’s Director of International Protection said their first request was that countries allow civilians fleeing Sudan on “a non-discriminatory manner to access their territory”.
She said this applied to Sudanese nationals, foreign nationals, and 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.”
Since the military showdown began between the national army and main rival militia known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began on 15 April, UNHCR and humanitarian partners have been reporting a shocking array of human rights violations, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and sexual violence.
Widespread criminality and looting of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and humanitarian premises, have forced many Sudanese to flee and seek safety outside Sudan.
“There are Sudanese who are outside of Sudan and who now require protection,” said Ms. Tan.
“They should not be sent back to Sudan if they have ongoing asylum claims. We are requesting that negative decisions be put on hold.”
Large numbers of civilians have been forced to flee the fighting, including people who were already internally displaced because of previous conflict in Sudan, and refugees from other countries.
“There were 1.1 million refugees hosted in Sudan, and those individuals require protection”, she stressed.
UNHCR remains particularly concerned about the situation of the newly displaced in Darfur.
“We have heard reports about IDP (internally displaced people) camps being burned to the ground, so we know that people are being displaced. The IDPs in Darfur are being displaced again,” said Ms. Tan.
“Our ability to provide assistance in Darfur is severely constrained.” She said in the east of the country, UNHCR was able to provide some assistance “because that part of the country is still relatively stable – In Darfur it’s a different situation and so the humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate.”