The scale and magnitude of displacement within Sudan and into neighbouring countries has continued to increase since the conflict erupted in mid-April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. As of 13 June, the fighting had displaced an estimated 1.67 million people inside Sudan1. In addition, over 550,000 people have fled Sudan, including more than 475,000 refugees and refugee returnees, and at least 75,000 migrant returnees and third-country nationals. Many of the refugees are fleeing to neighouring countries while some refugees along with migrants and third-country nationals are returning to their home countries in adverse circumstances.
In May, UNHCR, partners and host governments launched a six-month Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for the Sudan situation. The total budget request for the RRP as revised in June 2023 to account for higher than anticipated arrivals to Chad amounts to USD 566.4 million2. UNHCR leads the inter-agency response for refugees and refugee returnees, while IOM leads the support to migrant returnees and third-country nationals who do not have international protection needs. Both agencies are working together with government counterparts and relevant RRP partners, ensuring complementarity across the response.
As of mid-June, RRP partners were present at several border locations receiving new arrivals, providing life-saving assistance and facilitating onward movement. The response in many of the receiving countries (CAR, Chad,
Ethiopia, and South Sudan) is under urgent pressure as the rainy season begins, to move people from border areas and to improve infrastructure and conditions in transit centres, refugee camps and settlements. The border regions of CAR, Chad, and South Sudan are normally dependent on cross-border trade with Sudan and the conflict has had a substantial economic impact, increasing the burden on hosting communities and increasing the cost of the humanitarian response.
In the Central African Republic, over 15,000 refugees and returnees, including about 10,400 Sudanese refugees and 4,700 Central African refugee returnees have sought refuge in Am Dafock, a remote area in the Vakaga region. Many escaped from Nyala, South Darfur, where they experienced violence, looting and infrastructure destruction.
Some 95% of the new arrivals are women and children, who were initially staying with host families or in makeshift shelters.
Due to the volatile security situation at the border, a new site was identified near the town of Birao, some 65 km away from Am Dafock. At the new site, named “Korsi”, construction of family shelters and important infrastructure is ongoing. Relocation to Korsi started on 29 May, and as of 14 June, some 536 individuals (154 households) have been relocated and are receiving assistance from RRP partners. While some new arrivals were hesitant to be relocated, concerted sensitization and information-sharing efforts have been conducted to explain the importance of relocation for improved security and assistance. However, the impending rainy season will likely prevent facilitated relocation convoys from continuing until heavy rains subside. Spontaneous relocations using light vehicles are expected to continue arriving in Korsi during the rainy season.
In Chad, UNHCR has documented an influx of 115,980 new arrivals from Sudan in Ouaddaï, Sila, and Wadi Fira provinces. They are joining an existing population of 407,000 Sudanese refugees already living in 14 camps. IOM has documented over 33,000 Chadian migrant returnees who have arrived in the same three provinces, as well as in Ndjamena. Most of them had been living in Darfur for over 20 years and do not have a place of residence in Chad.
Despite the official border closure, the government is keeping the border open to Sudanese refugees. Response efforts include protection, registration, distribution of core relief items and shelter assistance. Due to insecurity in the border areas, new arrivals are being relocated away from the border to existing or new camps. While urgent additional assistance is required to support new arrivals, partners must be mindful of potential inter-community tensions as the conflict has disrupted Chad’s supply chain, increasing hardships for vulnerable hosting communities.
More than 210,000 Sudanese have fled to Egypt, according to data shared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of early June. In addition, 5,565 third-country nationals are reported to have arrived based on the latest data available.
Some 19,700 people, the vast majority Sudanese, have approached UNHCR in Egypt seeking international protection and are being registered accordingly.
Local community leaders report that increasingly vulnerable families arriving in Aswan and Cairo are in need of support. 90% of new arrivals are going to Cairo, where increasing rental prices and exploitation are resulting in significant challenges in finding housing, and often leading to homelessness among the new arrivals.
As of 10 June, all Sudanese entering Egypt are required to have a valid passport and visa, irrespective of age and gender. The new entry requirements have resulted in a significant decrease in daily arrivals. Some 12,000 families are stranded in difficult conditions in Wadi Halfa, Sudan, waiting for their visas to be processed at the Egyptian consulate.
On 15 June, the UN achieved a significant breakthrough with the delivery of cross-border aid from Egypt to Wadi Halfa. Three WFP trucks brought a first consignment of 50 metric tonnes of food through the Qustol-Ashkeet border and then on to Wadi Halfa after facilitation from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. UNICEF has an approved shipment of hygiene equipment that it expects to deliver through the humanitarian corridor later in June. UNICEF also has the approval to install latrines in the buffer zone between the two borders near the main crossing points, where people are stranded waiting for access into Egypt.
Over 45,600 people have arrived in Ethiopia through multiple border crossing points in Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, and Gambella regions. The majority are arriving at the Metema border point in the Amhara region at a rate of close to 1,000 per day. Arrivals include some 25,800 Ethiopian migrants returning home, over 8,000 Sudanese, and more than 11,700 third-country nationals from 69 countries.
As of 13 June, the Ethiopian Refugee and Returnee Service, with the support of UNHCR had screened more than 11,000 people crossing the border as refugees and asylum-seekers. The majority are Eritrean (57%) and Sudanese (31%), as well as South Sudanese (11%) and a smaller number of Ethiopian refugee returnees (1% or 142 individuals). Eritrean refugees with pending resettlement cases are being followed up by UNHCR.
Heavy rains have caused damage to shelters, and the possibility of disease outbreak is now also a concern, given the congestion at the Metema entry point.
Since 15 April 2023, more than 115,000 people have crossed into South Sudan, the majority of whom are South Sudanese refugee returnees. Almost 76% entered the Wunthow-Joda border crossing point in Upper Nile State. Prior to the conflict, Sudan hosted over 800,000 South Sudanese registered refugees and many more without refugee status (estimates of 2-3 million South Sudanese living in Sudan). The remaining nationalities arriving in South Sudan are Sudanese, Eritrean, and people of other nationalities, all of whom the Government of South Sudan has generously welcomed. The Government decided to grant prima facie status upon arrival to Sudanese nationals and other nationalities who had been registered as refugees in Sudan. Refugees who had resettlement cases pending in Sudan are being identified so that the process can be finalized in South Sudan.
The operational context in South Sudan is extremely challenging with inadequate basic services, poor connectivity, limited road network, security incidents, inter and intra-tribal conflicts, and extreme weather conditions, all of which hamper the delivery of assistance. The emergency response has prioritized onward movement from the border to areas of origin, destinations of choice and to existing refugee camps. However, six weeks into the emergency, it has not been possible to facilitate onward movement predictably and steadily, leading to overcrowding at transit sites and many people being stranded in different locations, mostly in the Upper Nile State.