Tensions between Eritrea and Sudan and its effects

A few months ago the Sudanese government declared a state of emergency in the Kassala state which borders Eritrea to combat human trafficking and illegal cross border trade. In the first week of January 2018, the Sudanese government mobilized the armed forces along the Eritrean –Sudanese border and closed the border between the two countries claiming Eritrea, Egypt, the UAE and Sudanese rebel groups are planning to attack Sudan from the East. This has reduced the flow of Eritrean refugees into Sudan significantly. The flow of Eritrean refugees into Sudan close to the town of Kassala has been affected much. The flows through the entry points of Hafir and Hamdaid which are located at the tri-partite borders of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan are less affected. But there are also limited human smuggling activities from Eritrea to Sudan run by the existing networks of the Eritrean army and Sudanese nationals at 8000 USD per person.

Following this developments, the Sudanese government is handling the cases of the members of the Eritrean armed forces who fled to Sudan to seek asylum amid such security tensions. They are transported to military camps and investigated intensively. Particularly those who flee from Sawa military training camp draw particular attention of the Sudanese security.  After the investigation, the asylum seekers are being transferred to Wed-Sherifoy refugee camp along the border with Eritrea.

It is also learned that Wedi-sherifoy refugee camp is under heavy surveillance of the Sudanese security. Besides the Sudanese government has declared a curfew in the Kassala town targeted at Eritrean residents of the city. The curfew is from 8:00 PM till morning. This declaration came to effect on the 14th of this month. On the contrary, there is no military mobilization from the Eritrean side along the border but a heightened movement and surveillance by the intelligence unit of the border surveillance unit. There are unconfirmed reports that the Eritrean army has moved back from the border area in some locations. Some supplies such as flour, gas cylinders, grains, chilli, automobile spare parts were seized by the Sudanese military in the Gulsa area south of Kassala while being smuggled to Eritrea. Some Eritrean and Sudanese nationals have been arrested by Sudanese security forces in relation to the smuggling of supplies.

The closer of the border has caused scarcity of supplies and skyrocketing of prices in Eritrea. It is to be noted that markets in Eritrea used to depend much on smuggled good from Sudan.

In a related development, 40 Eritreans who have been heled in detention in Jiref area in Khartoum have been released before two weeks and transferred to Shagarab refugee camp. These refugees arrested while they were trying to travel to Khartoum illegally after leaving Shagarab Refugee camp.

In Khartoum the fees to get a residence permit in Khartoum has been increased from 300 Sudanese pounds to 2500 Sudanese pounds for refugees. And refugees are asked to get these permits from 15th of January to 2nd of February this year. This announcement was issued in May last year but opposition from the international organization and NGOs it has not been implemented.

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