What happens to the Sudanese who have to flee the war to Egypt?

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
27 October 2023

We are often instructed by Sudanese who find refuge in Egypt and in their attempt to come to the UK to join relatives. By instructing a country expert, we have found that the general situation in Sudan is such that indiscriminate harm can remain a highly plausible risk for those who have to return there, and according to country guidance from both Government and NGO organisation, the general security situation in Sudan at present time is dire and the conflict shows no sign of abating soon.  

As of September 2023 as a result of the conflict there are many internally displaced persons and millions in need of humanitarian assistance.  The UNHCR position on return to Sudan, as of May 2023 states that the UNHCR considers the person fleeing from the ongoing conflict in Sudan, as well as Sudanese nationals who are outside the country and cannot return there, likely to be in need of international refugee protection under Article 1(2) of the 1969 OAE Convention or complimentary forms of protection, including subsidiary protection under Article 15(c) of the EU qualification directives.  They also meet the 1951 convention criteria for refugee status in view of the volatility of the situation in the entire territory of Sudan.  The UNHCR does not consider it appropriate to deny international protection to Sudanese or former habitual residents of Sudan on the basis of internal flight or relocation alternative.  

Our clients are often Sudanese Coptics who find themselves in Egypt and Coptic Christians face abuse from Egyptian society and State.  Sadly, those Coptics who fled to Egypt would not be granted permanent residency rights in Egypt, even if they wished to stay there. 

Egypt is not technically a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, but they do have an agreement with the UNHCR in which the UNHCR is given the authority to process asylum claims there.  It is important that the UNHCR protection in Egypt is not the same as protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and with a massive increase in influx of nearly half a million Sudanese migrants in Egypt and the massive strains it puts on the immigration services, the UNHCR protection will not be quick or guaranteed.  The UNHCR reported in October 2023 that even though the Egyptian officials increased the number of immigration officers and extended service hours, the number of refugees are growing and there is a backlog on visa processing estimated to be around thousands.