• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Nigerian migrants flee Sudan war, abandon studies and businesses

Nigerian migrants flee Sudan war, abandon studies and businesses

Sudan is in the thick of one of the world’s most devastating wars, and one of its most terrible humanitarian crises after more than a quarter of its 47 million population have been forced to flee their homes.

In the heat of this war, many Nigerians who have lived in Sudan for as little as a year and as long as fifteen years are fleeing back home as military juntas continue deadly clashes across different parts of the country, particularly in Khartoum, its capital city and the Darfur region.

The war is reported to have caused over 150,000 deaths but the shooting has not stopped, and the nightmare could continue.

On one side of the battle for Sudan is General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, president of Sudan’s military government and head of the army, and on the other hand is Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo former vice president of Burhan who controls Rapid Support Forces (RSF), one of the region’s biggest militia groups.

Both military heads struggle for power over Sudan after an initial team-up to oust the sitting government headed by Omar al-Bashir, a despised dictator.

Since April 2023 and the outbreak of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) across multiple cities in Sudan, the International Organisation for Migration has assisted the voluntary return and reintegration of Nigerian nationals stranded in Sudan.

“Profiling showed that while 70 percent of returnees are originally from the Northern part of Nigeria, 55 percent are female and about 60 percent are students with the rest being families who migrated in search of better opportunities or others,” IOM told BusinessDay.

When asked about their motivations for settling, IOM said, “Nigerians are primarily motivated to go to Sudan in pursuing their studies, but we’ve also seen migrants aspiring for better opportunities, doing pilgrimage or who came in order to reunite with the family members already there.

“Some of the migrants who returned with IOM’s support declared that they were seeking a road trip to perform pilgrimage in the holy land (Saudi Arabia) but could not make their way out of Sudan and decided to settle and start small scale business.

Now these Nierians have had to fold up their businesses to survive.

No space for peace

Sudan’s war has killed many and displaced even more who decided to settle and start a life. IOM’s displacement tracking matrix reveals that there are currently 6,680,850 IDP individuals and 1,330,933 IDP households.

Over the past year, the US and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development have tried to calm things down in the territory. However, mediation efforts have failed primarily because, “The two parties have made a bet, and the bet is to win militarily,” according to Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the US.

The losers are the migrants who started small businesses to earn a living and survive in a fragile state.

“It is worth noting that in general those who travel for studies have spent about 2-3 years while others who came for economic or other reasons might have been in Sudan even for 10-15 years living on a small-scale business and menial jobs. The armed conflict negatively impacted both groups and determined them to seek return,” the IOM said.

IOM’s repatraition efforts

Since 2017, IOM says it has provided reintegration support to over 23,000 Nigerian returnees, in collaboration with the Nigerian government.

“In this case, IOM worked closely with Nigerian authorities starting from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Sudan, and then with a series of institutions at Federal and State levels under the overall coordination of NCFRMI following the Standard Operating Procedures on Return, Remission and Reintegration,” IOM told BusinessDay.

IOM operates in Nigeria based on a Cooperation Agreement signed with the Nigerian Government back in 2002 granting it an objective to support the polity in developing and implementing migration policies, including return and reintegration activities of displaced persons.

Enduring conflicts like the situation in Sudan, a major host country to migrants in Africa subject them to a fight or flight situation; The most popular, and most times only option, being flight.

“No-one cares if you live or die”

A new report released Friday by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, IOM and the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC), titled “On this journey, no-one cares if you live or die” affirms that refugees and migrants continue to face extreme forms of violence, human rights violations and exploitation not just at sea, but also on land routes across the African continent, towards its Mediterranean coastline.

“This is in part the result of deteriorating situations in countries of origin and host countries – including the eruption of new conflicts in the Sahel and Sudan,” it read.

The UNHCR, IOM, and partners who offer protection services and assistance to displaced persons say humanitarian action is not enough.

The institutions are calling for concrete, routes-based protection responses to save lives and reduce suffering, as well as a push to address the root causes of displacement and drivers of irregular movements.

They are advocating for positive action on peacebuilding, respect for human rights, governance, inequality, climate change and social cohesion, as well as the creation of safe pathways for migrants and refugees.