Refugees in Sudan face increasing challenges due to COVID-19
Arrivals in eastern Sudan reduced by half in the first six months of the year
About 2,500 asylum-seekers, mostly from Eritrea, arrived in eastern Sudan during the first half of 2020, according to the latest update from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The number is less than half of the registered during the same period of 2019 and the lowest compared to the previous five years. The closure of borders as part of COVID-19 containment measures is one of the main causes for the reduction, according to UNHCR.
A large number of refugees and asylum-seekers in the region are facing increasing challenges as result of the economic and humanitarian impact of COVID-19. According to UNHCR, hundreds of Eritreans, including minors, have left Shagarab camps, Girba and Kassala and returned to their country. Many lost their jobs or part of their incomes, and the rising cost of living, fears of COVID-19 pushed them out of the country. In addition, asylum-seekers and refugees receiving food assistance have complained that the voucher value is too small and some informed that the system for cash transfers is not working, preventing them from accessing the assistance. Remittances from the diaspora have also sharply declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many without any means of survival.
According to UNHCR, Sudan hosts about 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers, including 880,000 South Sudanese and 120,000 Eritrean refugees. As of 9 July, the inter-agency refugee response in Sudan is underfunded, with only 28 per cent of the requirements covered, according to UNHCR.