Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Migration and Refugee Movements in the Middle East and North Africa

Publication Date



This paper attempts to provide an overview of refugees to and from Sudan. It is a preliminary contribution that seeks to highlight the question of refugees coming to Sudan (with focus on Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees), and Sudanese refugees fleeing Sudan to neighbouring countries and further a field. The paper is an overview and is based on the existing knowledge on the subject. It does not represent research findings and aims at initiating debate around the question of refugees. It also seeks to highlight possible future research areas. In addition to the sources consulted, the author also uses his own experience in refugee studies. Informal discussions were held with two Eritrean refugees in Khartoum. In terms of refugee crisis, Sudan represents an interesting case in the Horn of Africa. This is due to the fact that it is both a source and a receiver of refugees. The country is an interesting case because, in spite of long civil wars and political instability, Sudan is receiving refugees from neighbouring countries whose conditions are not as worst as the Sudanese case. In terms of relative security and stability, Uganda, Chad, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are better than Sudan. Yet, people from these countries have been seeking refuge in Sudan for the last 30 years. One obvious reason for this is that Sudan has a generous refugee policy (Kibreab 1996), but it also has no effective mechanisms of guarding its borders. Another reason is that since the 1980s, Sudan ceased to have a clear or coherent refugee policy. (Karadawi 1999) This, however, does not mean that refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan fully enjoy rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention of 1951, to which Sudan is a signatory, since Sudan is not well endowed economically to provide reasonable livelihood conditions for refugees. Sudan does observe, however, generally speaking, the principle of non-refoulement. (USCR 2006) In the end, the lack of clear asylum and refugee policy is contingent on political conditions and alliances in the region.

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