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Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Asylum seekers and refugees were vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and harassment outside of camps because they did not possess identification cards while awaiting government determination of refugee or asylum status. According to authorities registration of refugees helped provide for their personal security. There were some reported abuses, including of gender-based violence, in refugee camps. The government worked closely with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide greater protection to refugees. Refugees often relied on human trafficking and smuggling networks to leave camps. Smugglers turned traffickers routinely abused refugees if ransoms were not paid.

UNHCR reported more than 927,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the country during 2018. The governments Commission for Refugees estimated the total refugee population could be as high as 1.3 million persons, because a large number of potential refugees and asylum seekers remained unregistered. UNHCR reported there were countless South Sudanese in the country who were unregistered and at risk of statelessness.

Approximately 4,200 refugees from Chad and 5,100 refugees from the Central African Republic lived in Darfur. New Eritrean refugees entering eastern Sudan often stayed in camps for two to three months before moving to Khartoum, other parts of the country, or on to Libya in an effort to reach Europe. In eastern Sudan, UNHCR estimated there were 131,000 refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia. According to UNHCR an average of 500 to 1,000 new asylum seekers arrived each month in eastern Sudan, but over 70 percent migrated onward. The government has eased international humanitarian NGOs access to eastern Sudan, as it did throughout the country.

During the year 2018, UNHCR and the government amended the official South Sudanese refugee statistics to include South Sudanese living in Sudan before December 2013. UNHCR estimated that 768,819 South Sudanese refugees were in Sudan. The government claimed that there were between 2 and 3 million South Sudanese refugees in Sudan. Many South Sudanese refugees arrived in remote areas with minimal public infrastructure and where humanitarian organizations and resources were limited.

According to UNHCR, Khartoum hosted an estimated 285,000 South Sudanese refugees, including 47,000 refugees who lived in nine settlements known as open areas until August. A December 2017 joint government and UN assessment of the open areas indicated gaps in protection, livelihood, shelter, health, and education services.

Sudans and South Sudans four freedoms agreement provides their citizens reciprocal freedom of residence, movement, economic activity, and property ownership, but was not fully implemented. The government stated that, because South Sudanese are recognized as refugees (since 2016), their rights were governed by the Asylum Act, justifying a lack of implementation of the four freedoms. Implementation also varied by state in each country. For example, South Sudanese in East Darfur had more flexibility to move around (so long as they were far away from the nearest village) than did those in White Nile State. Recognition as refugees allowed South Sudanese to receive more services from UNHCR. At the state level, however, governments still referred to them as brothers and sisters.

The country is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and generally respected the principle of nonrefoulement with a few notable exceptions. With UNHCRs assistance authorities were trained on referral procedures to prevent refoulement, including of refugees who previously registered in other countries. There were no reported cases of refoulement during the year; however, individuals who were deported as illegal migrants may have had legitimate claims to asylum and/or refugee status.

The country maintained a reservation on Article 26 of the UN Convention on Refugees of 1951 regarding refugees right to move freely and choose their place of residence within a country. The governments encampment policy requires asylum seekers and refugees to stay in designated camps; however, 76 percent of South Sudanese refugees (the great majority of refugees in the country) lived with the local community in urban and rural areas. The government continued to push for the relocation of South Sudanese refugees living outside of Khartoum city to the While Nile state refugee camps. UNHCR notified the government that relocations must be voluntary and dignified. By years end the government had yet to relocate South Sudanese refugees to camps. The government allowed the establishment of two refugee camps in East Darfur and nine refugee camps in White Nile for South Sudanese refugees.

Refugees who left camps without permission and were intercepted by authorities faced administrative fines and return to the camp. Refugees and asylum seekers in urban areas, excluding Egyptians, Syrians, Yemenis, Iraqis, and Palestinians, were also subject to arrest. On average 150-200 refugees and asylum seekers were detained in Khartoum each month and assisted with legal aid by the joint UNHCR and Commission for Refugees legal team.

The government in principle allows refugees to work informally, but rarely granted work permits (even to refugees who obtained degrees in the country). A UNHCR agreement with the Commission for Refugees to issue more than 1,000 work permits to selected refugees for a livelihood graduation program implemented in Kassala and Gadaref was, due NISS suspension of the granting of permits, only 27 work permits were issued during the year, compared with 25 in 2016.





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Page last modified: 15-04-2019 18:49:35 ZULU