The war in Sudan forced more than 1.4 million people to leave their homes. Most of those displaced are women and children. More than 1 million are internally displaced, and 340.000 fled to neighboring countries. Egyptian authorities announced receiving over 170,000 Sudanese in the last 50 days. Those who fled to Egypt are mostly coming from Khartoum. More than 60,000 fled to Chad from Darfur, and another 70,000 fled to South Sudan. 

Right to Movement and Safety on Roads

Women and girls are suffering in the process of displacement with increasing insecurity on the roads, lack of food, and healthcare. The set-up of RSF and SAF checkpoints on the roads, blockage of bridges in Khartoum and looting are some of the main challenges for women’s movement across Sudan. Thousands of women are stranded in fighting areas in fear from the risks of traveling. The high cost of transportation is another challenge for women in need to flee hot zones. Rising reports of sexual harassment on the roads is leading many women and girls to remain in dangerous areas. Women do not feel safe to move within their neighborhoods in Khartoum and Darfur. Women are afraid to walk in the streets in fear from kidnap and sexual harassment. A woman trapped in a fighting area in Khartoum said, “ I went out to fetch water in our area in North Khartoum, I did not see any woman on the street. Our streets are no longer safe for women and girls.” A young woman who fled the area of North Khartoum two weeks ago said, “RSF stopped our car on the Bridge of Halfaya. The soldiers looked at my sister, they asked her to get out of the car. When my brother stood up to prevent them from pulling her down, the soldiers pointed the gun to his chest. My mother started begging them to leave him and started crying. We all cried and begged them to leave my brother and sister. In the end, they allowed us to go after searching all of us for an hour.” Stories of humiliating searches of travelers at the checkpoints across the roads in Khartoum and on the interstate highways are horrifying. At least two women were raped on their way to Aljazeera in the first week of the war. 

There are more than 280 reports of missing people, dozens of them are women and girls. The RSF kidnapped and arrested people out of suspicion of supporting the military. The military arrested and kidnapped activists, doctors, and members of resistance committees out of suspicion in supporting the RSF. The rising trends of pressure on civilians to pick sides in the war is threatening the safety of women and WHRDs. The searching points on the roads and the process of looking into travelers’ phones is adding to the challenges for WHRDs planning to move to safer locations. WHRDs take longer times to reach safe locations to avoid checkpoints that might lead to arrests during evacuation. Dozens of WHRDs are not able to travel swiftly in fear for themselves and families.

Situation of Internally Displaced Women

Women displaced from Khartoum fled to Madani in Aljazeera, White Nile, Northern and River Nile states. Those fled from Nayala in South Darfur, are taking refuge in the outskirts of the city, others fled to South Sudan. Women in Alfashir of North Darfur fled to the southern part of the city and other towns. The situation in Zelenji in Central Darfur and Algeneina  of West Darfur is catastrophic, as both cities are under siege according to activists who fled the areas to Chad. Thousands of women and children entered Chad, but most people were trapped without access to communication or any humanitarian aid for two weeks.  

The situation of WHRDs internally displaced is very worrying. Reports of threats to WHRDs who fled from Khartoum to Madani in Aljazeera state are increasing. Former regime security forces are active in surveillance of W/HRDs in the city. Two activists were arrested in the city while working on helping IDPs in the last two weeks. Women lawyers and journalists reported threats to their lives, as the place is not much safer than Khartoum. 

In some areas in Khartoum, Bahry, and Omdurman, RSF started a wide process of appropriation of entire neighborhoods, forcing people out of their homes. Resistance committees from Alhalfaya, Kafory and Almogtrabein documented these operations and called for protection of civilians. There are mass violations taking place in these areas including extrajudicial killings and sexual violence. In Omdurman, it is reported that military forces  killed two civilians at least in the area of Karary. 

Women and girls living in temporary shelters in Aljazeera, White Nile state and Port Sudan are struggling to access sanitation pads, women’s bathrooms, and sexual and reproductive healthcare. Food and clean water are another challenge as humanitarian aid organisations failed to reach those in need in different states. 

Situation of refugees including women and WHRDs, gender-based violence and evacuations 

Most of the women and WHRDs who fled Khartoum, took the roads to Egypt. The safety of the roads is changing every day. Travelers sometimes spend two or three days on the way to the borders to Egypt. The suffering of the travelers starts on the borders, as there are two entry points to Egypt: one is Argin through Halfa; and the other is Ashkin. Most people travel via Halfa to issue visas, renew passports and add children to their passports. The rules of issuing needed documents from Sudan is changing on a daily basis, Egypt is also making new entry regulations every few days. There is a high level of uncertainty in the process of crossing to Egypt which impacts the safety of travel and ability to plan  evacuation of women and WHRDs from fighting areas in Khartoum.

The most recent changes since June 7th, 2023 is alarming and increasing the challenges for women and vulnerable people struggling to flee Sudan. The Sudanese ministry of transportation announced that all Sudanese nationals including women and children are required to obtain visas to cross to Egypt. The ministry announced that new regulations will be applicable starting June 10th, 2023. Women, children and men over 50 were waived from visa requirements by Egypt since the 4 freedoms agreement was signed between Sudan and Egypt in 2004.  The Egyptian government decision followed other changes of entry requirements. The available procedures on the Sudanese side to facilitate crossing to Egypt include: 

  • Addition of any number of children to valid passports.
  • The conditions to add children are: presenting birth certificates, marriage certificates/ national identification numbers.  Should these documents be not available, parents can issue a document from court under oath with a judge’s authentication. These procedures are not available in Halfa city at the borders with Egypt anymore. It’s available in Madani and Port Sudan cities. 
  • Renewal of passports expired after April 15th, 2023. 

Sudanese authorities recently changed regulations regarding extension and travel documents. The changes include the following: 

  • Postponement of issuing of travel documents. 
  • Postponement of extension of old (non-electronic) Sudanese passports.
  • Postponement of extension of electronic passports expired before April 15th 2023.
  • Postment of addition of children to parents passports at Halfa city. 

Changes in regulations of entry from Egyptian side include: 

  • Travel documents are not accepted to enter Egypt anymore for men or women. 
  • Extended non-electronic passports are not accepted.
  • All Sudanese Nationals, including women and children are required to obtain a visa to enter Egypt starting June 10th, 2023.
  • Issued visa will not grant entry, it must be accompanied by a security vetting approval document issued by Egyptian authorities (especially for men between the age of 16 and 50 years old) 

The procedures mentioned above have a direct impact on the situation of Sudanese refugees planning to cross to Egypt. The route to Egypt was the safest and most accessible pathway of evacuation for women and WHRDs. With the new visa requirements that ended visa waiver for women and children, the only available opportunity for safety for thousands of women and WHRds is jeopardized. Longer  waiting  periods means more suffering for women trying to flee the war in Sudan. In addition to the previous conditions  where women are forced to wait with their young boys of 16 years of age in inhumane conditions. The borders have a poor and limited capacity to provide services to thousands of people waiting for entry visas and other documents from both the Sudanese and Egyptian authorities. People stranded on the borders have limited access to shelter, food, bathrooms and healthcare. The complicated processes increased the time of waiting and the struggle for women and children. The postponement of acceptance of travel documents from Egypt has a dangerous impact on women. Thousands of women and WHRDs seeking safety and medical care will not be able to travel to Egypt, even though the route to Egypt remains the fastest and safest route to evacuate women and WHRDs from fighting areas in Khartoum.

Other countries such as Saudi Arabia and UAE declined issued visas and suspended transit visas for Sudanese, including women. PortSudan airport is the only functioning civilian airport in Sudan. Most flights were using Jeddah as a transit point to other countries. Saudi Arabia suspended all transit visas for Sudanese on June 7th. “ I was traveling to Cairo from PortSudan with a transit in Jeddah. The Saudi authorities refused to allow us to enter the airport and wait for our transit flight. They almost decided to deport all passengers to Sudan. But after a few hours were allowed to pass through to the airplane.” said A woman traveler on June 8th. On June 9th, 2023 dozens of  Passengers among them women were forced to return to Sudan and denied transit through Saudi Arabia without a transit visa. All passengers of the flight on June 8 were deported back to Sudan from Jeddah.

The postponement of issuing travel documents from both the Sudanese and Egyptian authorities’ decision to deny entry to people without valid electronic passports implies discrimination against women and girls. It is well known that women in conservative communities like Sudan lack the ability and opportunity to obtain passports as compared to men. Thousands of women without passports are trapped in Sudan without the ability to move to safer accessible places like Egypt. Those women are at risk of sexual violence since they are trapped and endlessly searching for alternatives. The International Convention of Refugees of 1951 encourages countries to accept refugees without regular entry conditions (and encourages ‘Prima Facie’ recognition of refugee status). Dozens of WHRDs are living in distress after this new procedure that limited the options of safe and fast evacuation of those who do not have passports. 

One of the aspects of gender discrimination related to women’s and WHRDs’ evacuation is related to their children. Dozens of women and WHRDs are trapped inside Sudan, after fleeing their homes without taking any documents. Some WHRDs and women in fighting areas we have talked to have no documents to prove they are parents of their children. One WHRD trapped in Aljazeera in risky conditions said, “I need to go to Egypt or any other country as soon as possible, but I was not able to carry with me any documents of my children. I can’t leave them behind, they are 8 and 5 years old.” The only option these women have is to issue a document from the court under oath with a judge’s authentication and presence of witnesses. This procedure is quite time consuming, and is also not available in many areas now. In Dongola and Halfa cities where the process is available, it usually takes two to three days of waiting in dire conditions. These cities have limited resources and women are forced to sleep in public places, mosques, and even in open areas while they wait for their documents’ completion, in order to move ahead to the borders. 

The situation of women and WHRDs in Egypt

Dozens of women and WHRDs arrived in Egypt with limited resources. Access to shelter, food and healthcare is limited for many of them. Local Sudanese initiatives provided temporary shelters for those in need. But with high living costs in Egypt and the need to stay for longer periods than expected, many women and families who arrived in Egypt are in need of urgent support to access food and accommodation. As fighting continues in Khartoum, thousands of people are fleeing every day. Most of those who arrived did not register at the UNHCR as refugees. Lack of knowledge of the rights and procedures is one of the reasons for their ordeal. Also, dozens of women who arrived with their children will not be able to survive for another month without urgent support. The UNHCR in Egypt is already underfunded, and in consequence, international actors need to take action to ensure that Sudanese women who took refuge in Egypt can survive and access basic needs. 

In addition, the right to peaceful association is highly restricted in Egypt. Women activists working in supporting WHRDs were working with restraints and fears for the sustainability of their work. Egypt remains an unsafe environment for WHRDs’ work, even though it is the shortest route of evacuation from Northern Sudan. 


  1. Both parties in the conflict to halt hostilities, protect civilians and open humanitarian corridors towards borders under the supervision of international humanitarian organisations.
  2. Both parties in the conflict and the international community to ensure the protection of women from sexual violence and guarantee the provision of essential services for survivors.
  3. Neighboring countries to ensure the application of the concept of Prima Facie status in line with the International Convention of Refugees of 1951 which encourages countries to accept refugees without regular entry conditions. 
  4. Neighboring countries to coordinate with civil society initiatives and international aid organisations to set-up humane places and bathrooms that ensure privacy and safety of women, and provision of timely meals and periodic medical service.
  5. All States to ensure sufficient funding to the  UN Refugee Agency and international aid organisations in neighboring countries to ensure that Sudanese refugees have access to basic needs.
  6. Both parties in the conflict, neighboring States, and the international community to ensure the protection of women human rights defenders, in line with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the General Assembly Resolution 181 on protection of Women Human Rights Defenders
  7. States, in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency, create programs for resettlement  of Sudanese W/HRDs and their families to countries where they can continue their work without intimidation or reprisals. 
  8. Relevant UN Special Procedures, in particular the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings to issue public statements on the ongoing violations and engage in inclusive and wide consultations with civil society including women human rights defenders.
  9. The Human Rights Council to establish an international investigation mechanism with sufficient resources including to investigate the threats and reprisals against WHRDs for their work, and to document SGBV.