Somali nationals flee Sudan conflict, reach Ethiopia

Khartoum (Caasimada Online) – Somali officials confirmed the arrival of 27 Somali nationals, including four women, in Ethiopia after fleeing the conflict in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

These individuals crossed into Ethiopia through the border town of Metema, according to an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who spoke with VOA Somali.

Among those who arrived in Ethiopia was former BBC Somali service journalist Abdisalam Hereri.

Hereri was in Khartoum to attend a memorial for the late Somali singer Mohamed Suleiman Tubeec when the fighting erupted.

He and other Somalis took advantage of a 24-hour cease-fire, traveling by bus to the southeastern Sudanese city of Al Qadarif before proceeding to the border town of Gallabat.

At Gallabat, Hereri reported encountering a “major problem” as some Sudanese border officials demanded a hefty fee for an exit stamp on their documents.

After negotiations, the group was charged $50 each. The Sudanese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Upon arriving in the Ethiopian town of Metema, Hereri described a markedly different atmosphere from Sudan.

“There was order and respect,” he said, adding that Ethiopian soldiers at the checkpoint expressed sympathy and welcomed the group warmly.

More Somalis fleeing

The Somali Embassy in Khartoum has confirmed that more Somalis are heading toward the Sudan-Ethiopia border in an attempt to return to Somalia.

Over 200 Somalis arrived in Al Qadarif on Saturday, according to Somali Ambassador to Sudan, Mohamed Sheikh Isak.

Somali officials are in communication with their Ethiopian counterparts to facilitate the entry of Somalis into Ethiopia.

Ambassador Isak explained that while the Somali government is not providing transport, they offer guidance to those fleeing the conflict.

He advised women against traveling alone to Al Qadarif and stated that the embassy in Khartoum remains open, preparing travel documents for those wanting to leave.

Challenges faced by Somali students

Somali students who arrived in Al Qadarif struggle with high living expenses and a lack of remittance services.

Abdalle Muse Ibrahim, a Khartoum’s International University of Africa student, said essentials are expensive, and he could not find a remittance office in the town to receive money from his parents in Somalia.

Asha Idris Hassan, another student who fled from Khartoum, reported encountering similar difficulties.

She mentioned a lack of water, accommodation, money exchange bureaus, and remittance services.

Asha Ali Abdi, a mother with a child who also fled from Khartoum, said she was asked to pay $30 a day for a one-bedroom rental with no running water, electricity, or kitchen.