The world hasn’t learned much from COVID-19, despite it being a wake-up call. The pandemic was meant to make us realize that we’re all vulnerable and interconnected as a species, regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not.
However, many people still maintain an isolated approach to life. It’s time to abandon this mindset and recognize that we must work together as a global community to address the challenges we face.
The arrogance of the human race to imagine that the disease, the war, the discord, the poverty will always stay on the other side of the border is so unappealingly foolish. Something has to give. It is time to accept a few harsh truths.
The situation in Sudan is heartbreaking and a stark reminder of the many challenges faced by people all over the world.
Families are fleeing their homes without knowing where they will end up, while vulnerable groups like women and children are struggling to cope in a chaotic and confusing environment.
To make matters worse, humanitarian organizations are struggling to provide aid and support due to limited resources, and governments and authorities are often absent or unresponsive.
It is heart-breaking watching such multitudes of people caught in a quandary such as what is playing out in the land of the black people.
It is tough to imagine the pain of the refugees who have fled death in Sudan only to find a new and to be honest, artificial crisis at the borders. They cannot leave the country because they lack documents a fact which for most, is not in any way their fault.
Pregnant mothers going into labour while waiting to be processed, the sick and famished dying in queues as border officials take long breaks, thousands braving the heat by day and the cold by night in crowded streets…this is what the world looks likes at the Sudan-Egyptian border and several other countries bordering Sudan.
Diplomats flee leaving documents under lock and key
The pandemic, which by the way is still very much a present-tense issue, facilitated a much-needed halting of a collective form of madness that had ensued courtesy of technology.
The Black Mirror theory was coming to life as we watched and it took a worldwide ‘flu’ to make everyone look up from their phones – for a minute at least.
We have dived right back into it. There is something exceedingly terrifying about the way the world has fallen into a technology-induced trance. The human race has been reduced to a zombie-like existence only capable of knee-jerk responses whenever a crisis occurs.
How many calamities have struck? How many civil unrests has the world seen? What truly is the value of life when it comes down to it all?
Thousands of helpless men, women and children are stuck at different borders because of bureaucracy, immigration laws and procedures.
Visa applications which were ongoing before the war in Sudan broke out have left thousands stranded. Their passports now remain locked up in the offices of Western diplomats who have since scampered off to safety. The legal limbo has turned into a procedural chokehold which might see them lose their lives and those of their loved ones.
The effrontery of embassy workers telling refugees in urgent need of safety to “apply for new Sudanese passports” is appalling. Apply where? To be processed by whom? The government and all its services have ground to a halt. Who would review and approve the new travel documents?
Are there no protocols which can be put in place to prevent situations such as this? A fail-safe mechanism that protects not just the diplomats but also the civilians in the event of a crisis such as the one we see currently?
It is in bad taste that there is no thought whatsoever, given to the thousands who are now stuck with nowhere to go. They cannot go back and they cannot move forward.
They have been stunned into an everlasting paralysis created essentially by the people whom they entrusted with their travel documents and essentially their safety.
Dallia Abdelmoneim, a former Sudanese journalist took to Twitter saying,
To the western negotiators: you put us in this mess & now you’re swooping in to take your kinfolk (the ones that matter) & leaving us behind to these two murdering psychopaths I’m logging off. Bc I don’t know what’s going to happen next & I’d rather be w family than provide news… God have mercy on us cause no one else gives a damn and no one else will be merciful.
Dallia, like many others, fled Khartoum after a mortar crashed into her home.
Emergency legislation during a crisis
Refugees leaving Sudan face several predicaments among them statelessness, lack of basic human needs, health challenges and valid fear for their lives.
The situation if prolonged further is likely to degenerate into madness unlike any seen before. Bus drivers are already charging exorbitant prices for those who want to travel out of Sudan by road.
cost to cross the border into Egypt via bus currently stands at $ 40,000, an amount which a majority of the fleeing families cannot afford.
The forced mass expulsion being witnessed calls for re-evaluating border rules and international immigration laws in the face of calamity.
Sudan is playing out like an accidental horror movie that has spiralled out of control. Al Jazeera highlighted a sad story of a mother and her baby stuck at the border because the mother had no visa.
The baby needs urgent surgery. The border officials will hear nothing of it and all the mother has been met with our hang-ups on her calls. One is left to wonder who these victims should turn to and if no exceptions can be made to ease their suffering if only just in the interim.
These desperate journeys can be avoided if only there was legislation put in place to come into play. There is evidently an urgent need for a failover system on an international scale.
Territory and asylum procedures must be robust enough to do a rapid needs assessment to identify those who need protection and accelerate their passage to safety.
Fair and efficient procedures thereafter, when situations are under control, can help evaluate groups with no compelling need for humanitarian assistance and they can be returned safely and with dignity to their countries of origin.
Detaining children and indeed all other at-risk groups, for immigration reasons such as what is being witnessed at several borders must be addressed urgently. This is a vulnerable population which must be protected at all costs.
Everyone fleeing Sudan is entitled to and deserves protection against the immense and accumulating dangers faced by refugees. There needs to be a bridging between the theory of the law and the actual prevailing circumstances when war and civil unrest erupted.
Cover Photo by Yousra Elbagir/Courtesy