By Anna Louise Strachan
Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for migrants. Sudanese migrants are a mixed group of refugees and asylum seekers, economic migrants and, to a lesser extent, foreign students. The majority are men aged 25–40, and they come from a wide range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.
The majority of refugees and asylum seekers are in neighbouring countries, while somewhere in the region of 500,000 economic migrants are working in the Gulf States. There are also smaller numbers of Sudanese migrants in Western countries, with 16,901 residence permit holders in the EU28 by the end of 2014.
Given the important role of remittances for individuals in Sudan, and for the Sudanese economy, the state is generally supportive of migration.
There has been state collusion in people smuggling and trafficking of migrants, with members of the Sudanese military, border patrols, police and refugee camp guards reportedly involved.
There is general consensus that Sudan suffers from brain drain, at least in some sectors. Most notable among these is the health sector.
The majority of migrants to Sudan tend to be migrants transiting through Sudan on their way to Libya and Egypt, and possibly on to Europe. They generally travel through Sudan with people smugglers. The journey through Sudan is extremely dangerous owing to the risk of kidnapping, extortion, torture and sexual and physical violence perpetrated by migrant smugglers.
There are some migrants from neighbouring countries who choose to remain in Sudan, although accurate figures are not available. In addition, Sudan hosts a small number of qualified migrant workers from Asian countries.
Sudan is affected by multiple conflicts and forms of violence. The conflict in Darfur has been responsible for mass displacement within Sudan and across borders in recent years, with the current IDP population in the region standing at 2.5 million (ICG, 2015b, p. 4). Moreover, the Two Areas conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has also resulted in significant displacement, with 222,000 IDPs in South Kordofan in 2013 and 176,000 IDPs in Blue Nile state. While there is anecdotal evidence to suggest IDPs subsequently migrate out of Sudan, there is no concrete evidence to support these claims. Violence against civilians is widespread, as is sexual violence against women and girls. In addition, Sudan is involved in the conflict in South Sudan through its support to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). The literature on conflict in Sudan suggests violence in the country is increasing.
Sudan has experienced serious economic challenges since the secession of South Sudan in 2011, when it lost around 75 per cent of its oil revenue. However, the economy is showing some signs of recovery. Despite this, almost 50 per cent of the country’s population live in poverty.
Political freedom is severely curtailed and human rights abuses perpetrated by the state and its affiliates and by non-state actors are widespread.
There is very little evidence on the links between inward and outward migration and development. However, internal migrants have generally performed more poorly than the remainder of the Sudanese population on the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicators. Moreover, rural–urban migration has resulted in a significant increase in urban poverty in Sudan.
Sudan received $1,163,120,000 in aid in 2013, but it does not always reach those most in need. Poor donor coordination, reduced funding for NGOs and government restrictions on NGO and INGO activities are some of the factors responsible for this. Moreover, Western donors’ influence in Sudan is limited. This makes it difficult for them to leverage political change in the country, which would improve the lives of its citizens.