U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Sudan



Refoulement/Asylum  The Government deported four of over 3,200 Eritrean refugees who fled abusive military conscription. The refugees subsequently fled again and the Government then granted them asylum. In August, 75 Eritrean refugees Libya was deporting took over and forcibly diverted their plane to Khartoum. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government's Commission for Refugees (COR) screened and granted status to 60 of them. The Government convicted the other 15 under Sudan's Anti-Terrorism Act, sentencing them to five years in prison and deportation.

In July, the Government resumed the asylum screening of Eritreans after having delegated that responsibility to UNHCR in 2002 and granted asylum to more than 95 percent of applicants, although interviews were often cursory. The asylum system offered no appeal, but it generally respected UNHCR's decisions where UNHCR rescreened cases and determined applicants were "manifestly in need of protection."

Sudanese law did not expressly forbid the refoulement of refugees, but the country's 1974 Regulation of Asylum Act (Asylum Act) allowed for the expulsion refugees who presented a security threat. Cessation of refugee status also constituted grounds for deportation. The Asylum Act acknowledged the supremacy of international refugee and asylum law when interpreting its provisions.

In 2002, UNHCR invoked the cessation clause for Eritrean refugees, but the Government agreed to allow those with compelling reasons not to return to apply for continuation of their status. Nearly 29,000 registered claims, and by mid-2004, UNHCR had assessed all but 5,300.

Detention  The Government detained 14 Eritrean refugees in Es Showak in eastern Sudan, alleging they had entered illegally. Officials commonly detained, beat, and extorted bribes from refugees and immigrants unable to produce valid documents. The National Security Department, known to practice secret detention and torture, reportedly detained refugees without notifying UNHCR. The Asylum Act authorized detention of refugees "if found necessary."

Under the Asylum Act, asylum applicants were entitled to identification cards, but the process was inefficient and required renewal every three months. Rejected applicants and other immigrants could apply for an annually renewable resident's permit for $200.

Right to Earn a Livelihood  The Asylum Act allowed refugees to work, but not in the security or defense sectors. Refugees could work outside camps if they had refugee identification and travel permits. Those found outside camps without documentation were subject to harassment or extortion. Refugees farmed land, raised livestock, worked as laborers, and ran businesses. While the Asylum Act denied them the right to own land and immovable property, most were able to rent land without government interference. Eritrean refugees who had lived for decades in settlements in the east among relatives or members of similar ethnic groups were able to farm and graze their livestock. UNHCR continued to work with the Government to secure terms for the local integration of those Eritreans who remained after others repatriated.

Freedom of Movement and Residence  The Government required refugees to reside in camps, granting permission to leave only for medical care, education, or employment. The Asylum Act stated that a refugee "shall not depart from any place of residence" the Government specified. Violations carried sentences of up to one year but there were no reports of prosecutions. About 90,000 refugees lived in camps and 65,000 in urban areas. About 80 percent of new arrivals went to the capital. UNHCR issued refugees international travel documents. Sudan maintained a reservation to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees' provision on freedom of movement.

Public Relief and Education  UNHCR and aid agencies provided healthcare, food, education, other basic supplies, and community services to refugees in camps. Some refugee children attended Sudanese schools. Many refugee children were educated in Arabic and pursued secondary and higher education in Sudan. UNHCR provided secondary school scholarships to 84 refugees, 51 females and 33 males, and 30 others received vocational or technical education. Refugees in urban areas did not receive aid except in emergency situations when they could obtain one-time cash payments of about $100. UNHCR also provided ongoing assistance to urban refugees it deemed vulnerable.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)  Even as the Government and rebels in the south moved toward peace, the conflict and humanitarian crisis in the western region of Darfur worsened and displaced massive numbers of civilians. Government forces, janjaweed Arab militias, and two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, fought each other and attacked local communities. Government forces bombed villages from the air while janjaweed militias on horseback systematically raped and murdered civilians and burned and looted livestock and property. The janjaweed raped more than 40 schoolgirls and teachers in one town in February and 40 more at an IDP camp in June. Travel outside the camps was extremely dangerous, especially for women. Local authorities turned away IDPs seeking refuge in towns, closed camps, forced them to relocate to unsafe areas, and denied them aid.

The violence claimed between 70,000 and 140,000 lives and related disease and malnutrition killed between 130,000 and 260,000. There were 1.84 million IDPs in Darfur, 30 percent of the region's population. Countrywide estimates of IDPs ranged from 5.3 million to 6.2 million. There were 2 million IDPs in the south, 1.55 million in the north, 60,000 in the east, and 200,000 in Sudan's transitional areas. About 400,000 IDPs returned in the south and transitional areas.

Eleven UN agencies, 77 nongovernmental organizations, and over 9,000 aid workers provided protection and assistance to IDPs in Darfur. But poor road conditions, continued conflict, and direct attacks upon aid workers, including the killing of four Save the Children staff, severely restricted the ability to deliver aid. Despite a humanitarian cease-fire agreement in April, the Government continued to restrict access to Darfur and lifted visa restrictions only after months of pressure from UN and aid agencies.

By year's end, just half of the affected population had clean water and only 62 percent were receiving food or could reach a primary health facility. UN agencies predicted severe food shortages in 2005 due to the failure of the 2004 harvest. A Hepatitis E epidemic infected 17,700 people, killing 166. As of February 2005, donors had supplied only 55 percent of the food needed in Darfur and only 8 percent in all other areas. In the south and other conflict-affected areas, one out of four children died before age five, and one in nine women died in pregnancy or childbirth.

Other Developments  Conflict in the south came to a formal close on January 9, 2005, when the Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The agreement ended two decades of war that had displaced more than 4 million people, killed 2 million, and forced 600,000 into exile. UNHCR announced plans to begin repatriating Sudanese refugees from Uganda by October 2005.

Copyright 2005, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants


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