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Sudanese refugee crisis (2023–present)

Sudanese refugee crisis
Part of the war in Sudan (2023)
A Chadian camp for displaced people who fled violence in Darfur at the Chad-Sudan border where over 90,000 people have fled and thousands have been displaced.
Date15 April 2023 – present
Displaced9-10 million[1][2]

An ongoing refugee crisis began in Africa in mid-April 2023 after the outbreak of the 2023 Sudan conflict. By April 2024, around 1.8 million people have fled the country, while around 9-10 million had been internally displaced. These included at least 75,000 migrant returnees and other third-country nationals.[3][4]

The vast majority of these civilians entered the neighboring country of Chad with the United Nations reporting most of these people came from Darfur and Khartoum, but thousands more moved to other countries. By August, the UN reported at least 220,000 refugees in South Sudan, 285,000 in Egypt, 75,000 people in Ethiopia, 17,000 in the Central African Republic, 414,000 in Chad, and 3,500 in Libya.[5] Several people were reportedly stuck or displaced across the country due to the increase in violence and a humanitarian crisis which had affected 25 million people, equivalent to more than half of Sudan’s population, across the whole country.[6]


On 15 April 2023, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launched a surprise attack on multiple Sudanese Army bases across the country, including in the capital Khartoum.[7] RSF forces claimed to have captured Khartoum International Airport, Merowe Airport, El Obeid Airport as well as a base in Soba. Clashes between the RSF and the SAF erupted at the Presidential Palace and at the residence of General al-Burhan, with both sides claiming control over the two sites. In response, the SAF announced the closure of all airports in the country, and the Sudanese Air Force conducted airstrikes on RSF positions in Khartoum with artillery fire being heard in different parts of the city.[7] Fighting continued in the following weeks and spread to the Darfur region, which was recovering from an internal conflict and genocide in the 2000s, and in the Kordofan region, where remnants of South Sudanese separatist groups joined sides with either the SAF or the RSF.

Refugees before the 2023 conflict

Before the conflict, thousands of refugees had fled Sudan during old conflicts, mainly its civil wars or the wars in Darfur leaving at least 400,000 Sudanese across the Chadian border and hundreds of thousands more in neighboring countries such as South Sudan and Egypt.[8][9]

Refugee movements

Internally-displaced persons

The United Nations said on 23 December that the fighting in Sudan had produced 5.6 million internally displaced persons.[10] 1.7 million of them were reported to have from Khartoum alone.[11] Some of them faced difficulties such as the presence of roadblocks and robberies along the roads.[12] The Norwegian Refugee Council said that there were about 300 refugees from Khartoum who had fled southeast to El-Gadarif.[13] 3,000 refugees from Khartoum fled to Tunaydbah refugee camp, which already hosts 28,000 Ethiopian refugees, in eastern Sudan, while at least 20,000 fled to Wad Madani.[14] Up to 260,000 people fled to White Nile State, which borders South Sudan.[11] Up to 37,000 people were thought to have been displaced across Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.[15] The IOM said that all of Sudan's 18 states experienced displacement, with most refugees coming from Khartoum, which accounted for about 69 percent of the total number of displaced people,[16] followed by West Darfur with more than 17 percent.[17]

More than 32,000 people were internally displaced when fighting between the SAF and the rebel SPLM-N (al-Hilu faction) broke out in Blue Nile State in June,[18] while 83,000 were displaced in South Kordofan.[19]



Sudanese refugees in Chad

On 15 April, Chad reported thousands of refugees coming past the now closed border between the nation and Sudan. Over the following days the UN reported a massive influx of refugees crossing mainly from Darfur amounting to 20,000 people by 19 April,[20] more than 90,000 by late May,[21][22] 115,000 by June,[23] and 239,000 by July.[24] The UN announced later on that the refugees lacked basic needs such as food and shelter. Reports also suggested that the majority of them were women and children.[25] More than 160,000 of them were members of the Masalit ethnic group who were fleeing ethnically-based attacks by the RSF and allied militias.[26] By August, the number of refugees had reached over 414,000, making it the single largest host country for refugees from the conflict.[5]

South Sudan

On 24 April 2023, South Sudan's Renk County reported thousands of refugees seeking shelter in the country. Authorities estimated the volume of refugees to be at least 10,000 people, three-quarters of whom were South Sudanese who had previously fled north to escape internal conflicts and the rest consisting of Sudanese and other African nationals.[27] The refugees were primarily women and children who also lacked several basic needs.[28] Authorities reported that the refugees included South Sudanese, Sudanese, Ugandan, Kenyan, Eritrean and Somali nationals.[29] By June, the number of refugees had risen to over 115,000,[3] and more than 259,000 by September.[30]


On 23 April 2023, hundreds of civilians were reported to have arrived at the Egyptian border mainly in buses, with most of them again being women and children who had fled from war-torn cities. These people were given asylum and Egypt urged civilians to go to its land border crossing at Wadi Halfa or to Port Sudan for evacuation or safety.[31][32] Egypt said that 42,300 people, 40,000 of whom were Sudanese, had entered the country from Sudan.[22] The number increased to 64,000 by 9 May.[33] Two camps operated by the Red Crescent were set up to provide aid to refugees.[34] By August, the UN estimated the total number of refugees in Egypt at 285,000.[5] Following the imposition of visa requirements on 10 June for all Sudanese citizens, 12,000 families were stranded in the Wadi Halfa border crossing while their visas were being processed by the Egyptian consulate.[3]

Other countries

More than 75,000 people fled to Ethiopia,[5] including 1,400 Turkish nationals.[35] The country later started receiving up to 3,000 refugees when fighting between the SAF and the SPLM-N (al-Hilu) broke out in June,[18] while 25,000 others were stranded at the Sudanese side of the border by September.[36] About 17,000 people fled to the Central African Republic, while at least 3,500 fled to Libya.[5] About 3,000 people were evacuated to Djibouti.[37]


Criticism was levelled at diplomatic missions operating in Sudan for their slow response in helping Sudanese visa applicants whose passports were left behind in embassies following their closure during evacuation efforts, preventing them from leaving the country.[38]

On 7 May 2023, The Guardian reported that hundreds of Eritrean refugees had been taken away from camps near the Eritrean-Sudanese border. Several Eritrean civilians said the Eritrean Army had taken several civilians back into the country forcefully. Some of those detained were reported to be activists who had fled the dictatorship of President Isaias Afwerki and conscription in the army. 95 people were sent to prison forcefully with severe punishments ahead of them, eight being women.[39]

Ethiopians who fled to Sudan as refugees of the Tigray War would sometimes find themselves victimized again upon arrival, this time by human traffickers. A number of refugees had testified to being kidnapped, regularly tortured, and transported to warehouses in Libya, where many would die due to poor living conditions.[40] This situation worsened further after Sudan itself descended into violence in 2023, placing them at further risk of being kidnapped.[40][41]

See also


  1. ^ "Sudan Conflict Fuels World's Largest Internal Displacement | Human Rights Watch". 31 January 2024. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  2. ^ Hirons, Rachel (20 March 2024). "Sudan 2024 - the world's largest internal displacement crisis". Medair. Retrieved 5 April 2024.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Sudan Emergency: Regional Refugee Response, June 2023 - Progress report". 18 June 2023. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  4. ^ Omer, Sevil (19 March 2024). "Sudan crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help". World Vision. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  5. ^ a b c d e "UN: One million people flee Sudan as situation 'spirals out of control'". Aljazeera. 16 August 2023. Retrieved 19 August 2023.
  6. ^ "As Sudan war rages, rival sides accused of looting, diverting aid". Al Jazeera. 16 June 2023. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  7. ^ a b "Sudan: Army and RSF battle over key sites, leaving 56 civilians dead". BBC News. 15 April 2023. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  8. ^ "UN says up to 20,000 have fled Sudan fighting for Chad". Yahoo Sports. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  9. ^ "Violence in Sudan's Western Darfur forces 2,500 into Chad: UN refugee agency | UN News". 11 August 2020. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  10. ^ "War in Sudan: more than 7 million displaced - UN". Africanews. 23 December 2023. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Sudan fighting sparks communications blackout in Khartoum, disease outbreaks". France 24. 14 July 2023. Retrieved 14 July 2023.
  12. ^ "A three-hour trip now takes 12 hours: AJ correspondent". Al Jazeera. 20 April 2023. Archived from the original on 20 April 2023. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
  13. ^ "Hundreds arrive in Gadarif from capital to escape fighting". Al Jazeera. 23 April 2023. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  14. ^ "Humanitarian workers: Scale of displacement in Sudan difficult to measure". Al Jazeera. 26 April 2023. Archived from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  15. ^ "Sudan fighting prompts 'chaotic' wave of displacement". Al Jazeera. 28 April 2023. Archived from the original on 28 April 2023. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  16. ^ "Sudan conflict displaces more than 5 million people: OCHA". Sudan Tribune. 7 September 2023. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Sudan's raging war forces more than two million from their homes". Al Jazeera. 14 June 2023. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  18. ^ a b "Sudan army claims victory over rebel fighters in Blue Nile region". Radio Dabanga. 28 June 2023. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  19. ^ "South Kordofan's displaced in Kadugli 'denied aid'". Radio Dabanga. 26 September 2023. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  20. ^ Ramadane, Mahamat (22 April 2023). "UN agency in Chad expects more Sudan refugees". Reuters. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  21. ^ Sy, Lalla; Hujale, Moulid (24 May 2023). "Sudanese refugees fleeing violence flock to Chad". Chad. UNHCR. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  22. ^ a b Davies, Lizzy (5 May 2023). "Sudan's neighbours have little to offer refugees, warns UN". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  23. ^ Nashed, Mat (17 June 2023). "Fears of ethnic cleansing mount in Sudan's West Darfur". Aljazeera. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  24. ^ "War in Sudan has displaced over three million people, says UN". France 24. 12 July 2023. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  25. ^ Presse, AFP-Agence France. "UN Says Up To 20,000 Have Fled Sudan Fighting For Chad". Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  26. ^ de Waal, Alex (13 July 2023). "Sudan crisis: From Ruto to Sisi, leaders vie to drive peace process". BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  27. ^ "South Sudan receives about 10,000 refugees". Al Jazeera. 24 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  28. ^ "South Sudan receives about 10,000 refugees fleeing Sudan fighting". The Times of India. 24 April 2023. ISSN 0971-8257. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  29. ^ "10,000 refugees flee to South Sudan as conflict rages". Hindustan Times. 24 April 2023. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  30. ^ "Sudan conflict displaces 259,000 people into South Sudan: OCHA". Sudan Tribune. 10 September 2023. Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  31. ^ El-Din, Mai Shams (24 April 2023). "Fear and exhaustion: A family's flight from Sudan to Egypt". Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  32. ^ "Sudan fighting: On a bus to Egypt with Mario the pug". BBC News. 25 April 2023. Archived from the original on 25 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  33. ^ "Sudan fighting in its 24th day: A list of key events". Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  34. ^ "'Children are crying every day… it is a crisis'". BBC. 26 April 2023. Archived from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  35. ^ "Thousands fleeing Sudan arrive in Ethiopia". BBC. 27 April 2023. Archived from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  36. ^ "CAR grapples with Sudan refugee crisis, UN chief appeals for int'l aid". Radio Dabanga. 10 September 2023. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  37. ^ "Thousands of Sudanese evacuated to Djibouti". Al Jazeera. 29 April 2023. Archived from the original on 29 April 2023. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  38. ^ "Sudanese stuck as passports locked in abandoned Western embassies". Al Jazeera. 29 April 2023. Archived from the original on 29 April 2023. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  39. ^ Salih, Zeinab Mohammed (7 May 2023). "Eritrea accused of forcibly repatriating civilians caught up in Sudan fighting". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  40. ^ a b Harter, Fred (15 May 2023). "'I saw many bodies': having escaped one conflict, Tigray refugees face new terrors". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 15 August 2023.
  41. ^ Bociaga, Robert (23 May 2023). "Sudan crisis traps Ethiopians displaced by Tigray war between two conflicts". Arab News. Archived from the original on 2 July 2023.
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Sudanese refugee crisis (2023–present)
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