Long waits, soaring costs at Egypt-Sudan border

Refugees from Sudan face long queues at Argeen border crossing into Egypt (Photo: @BSonblast / Twitter)


Wadi Halfa in Sudan’s Northern State is struggling to cope with an increasing number of people hoping to cross the border into Egypt, who now outnumber the town’s own population. The dire humanitarian crisis, visa complexities, healthcare challenges, and rising costs, has left thousands in distress.

Around 30 buses arrive daily from various Sudanese cities and towns, exacerbating the situation, listeners told Radio Dabanga. As previously reported, dire humanitarian conditions prevail at the Wadi Halfa and Argeen border crossings into Egypt, as well as at other border crossings to Ethiopia and South Sudan. Several deaths, including elderly women and children, at the Egyptian border have been attributed to dehydration, heat stroke, and infections from potentially contaminated water.

Notably In Wadi Halfa, the town’s hotels are packed with travellers. This surge in demand has led to exorbitant rental prices, ranging from SDG 50,000 to SDG 100,000 a day. The local guest house has been exclusively allocated to foreigners, according to listener Saeed Abu Ammar.

Travel fares between Wadi Halfa and Aswan have skyrocketed, sometimes reportedly as high as SDG 150,000. Prices have now reduced to between SDG 25,000 and SDG 40,000 after authorities and the local security committee intervened.

Visa complexities

Obtaining an entry visa at the Egyptian consulate in Wadi Halfa is a time-consuming process. Men aged 16 to 50 need one to enter Egypt. Women, children, and elderly don’t. It has s been reported that it takes up to two weeks to apply for a visa, and an additional two weeks before it is issued, causing frustration among the waiting crowds.

There are extensive delays in the neutral zone between border crossings, with tightened inspection and auditing processes, where people have no access to emergency assistance, volunteer organisations, or essential services.

Radio Dabanga reported this week that an open letter was shared by activist group EyesOnSudan.net to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the UNHCR Egypt Representative to call for more support to those fleeing violence in Sudan.

Healthcare crisis

Abu Ammar spoke of a “dire healthcare situation in Wadi Halfa”, with a shortage of life-saving medicines and basic medical supplies”. Public hospitals lack doctors and staff, hampering the provision of adequate care. Volunteers face challenges due to limited resources, resulting in thousands lacking proper healthcare.

The cost of basic commodities and food has significantly risen due to the war and the arrival of refugees. Essential supplies, including drinking water, are imported from Egypt, further driving up prices.

Return travel from Egypt to Sudan is limited, and communication services have been disrupted, except for Zain, which while operating, still experiences significant weaknesses in communication and internet services.