Thousands flee to Abyei and Nuba Mountains, Port Sudan ‘overcrowded’

People displaced bt the fighting in Khartoum find makeshift shelter in Port Sudan, May 10, 2023 (Photo: Mohamed Elamin / WFP)


Abyei, a disputed region on the border of Sudan and South Sudan, has witnessed an influx of people fleeing the conflict in Khartoum. More than 100,000 people have sought refuge in the area of Kauda in the Nuba Mountains which is under the control of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction (SPLM-N El Hilu). In Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast, overcrowding is deepening the dire humanitarian situation, as thousands of prospective refugees urgently appeal for evacuation.

It’s estimated that the ongoing conflict in Sudan has caused more than a million people to be displaced. According to figures reported to the UN Security Council by UNITAMS head Volker Perthes this week.

Abyei, a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan, has seen an influx of approximately 3,000 people, many of whom are South Sudanese. Reports say that 10 residents of Abyei have been killed, and many others injured in Khartoum.

According to Belbek Kuol Deng, Sultan of the Ngok Dinka, between 2,000 and 3,000 Abyei residents have returned from Khartoum due to the conflict. “Local communities have provided them with shelter, while the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has registered them for humanitarian assistance”, he said.

Additionally, around 300 foreigners of various nationalities have sought refuge in Abyei, with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) working on repatriating those who wish to continue their journey, according to Sultan Belbek.

IOM reported on Tuesday that more than a million people are displaced due to the conflicts, with more than 319,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

 Nuba mountains

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction headed by Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu), has stated that more than 100,000 displaced people have sought safety in areas under their control in Kauda and surroundings due to the clashes.

Ranya Wanza, information secretary of the SPLM-N Nuba Mountains regional government, explained in a press statement that temporary registration centres have been established for the displaced, who will later be transferred to other locations.

Port Sudan

About 4,000 Syrian nationals in Port Sudan have appealed for evacuation. Mostly women and children, they face dire humanitarian conditions marked by high temperatures, humidity, and limited access to food.

In Port Sudan, hundreds of people are struggling to obtain visas to Egypt, as the Egyptian consulate issues only 20 visas per day. This has resulted in prolonged waiting periods. Applicants’ passports are also retained by the consulate during this period.

Frustrated by the lengthy procedures, a listener told Radio Dabanga that they have decided to return to Port Sudan from Northern State because of the challenges posed by the Egyptian consulate in Wadi Halfa. Additionally, the situation in Port Sudan is exacerbated by high rental prices of SDG 50,000 per day, and basic commodities are scarce.

As of May 22, the Federal Ministry of Health reported 709 deaths and 5,424 injured cases across 13 states. While various international and regional organisations have supplied medical aid, medical services remain disrupted in Khartoum and certain Darfur states.

Independent international estimates paint an even bleaker picture. UNITAMS head Volker Perthes told the UN Security Council this week: “More than 860 civilians have been killed, including more than 190 children, with another 3,500 civilians injured.”