KHARTOUM, Sudan, July 5, 2020 — The Government of Sudan last month began facilitating the return home of the first of an estimated 15,000 Sudanese nationals stranded overseas, many in urgent need of assistance, with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
IOM, which has been advocating for the creation of predictable, safe return mechanisms that balance mobility with the need for the robust public health response to COVID-19, is working with the World Health Organization (WHO), to strengthen health surveillance measures at points of entry including Khartoum International Airport, Port Sudan New International Airport and Swakin seaport.
“Khartoum International Airport has completed all the necessary preparations to receive Sudanese residents who have been stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ibrahim Adlan, General Director of the Civil Aviation Authority.
“The airport is taking all the necessary precautions in compliance with international guidelines and procedures set by the Ministry of Health to test all passengers before boarding and upon arrival in the country, to ensure the safety and health of everyone including workers and passengers.”
The majority of those wishing to return home are in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Priority has been given to the elderly and those needing medical treatment.
IOM has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including over 50,000 masks, 63,000 gloves, 1,600 hand sanitizers and five thermo-scan thermometers for use at Khartoum International Airport. Terminal signage for physical distancing and COVID-19 awareness and prevention was also provided.
“IOM is delighted to be able to help support with the return of Sudanese residents back to their own homes and reunite them with family and friends,” said Andrew Gray, the head of Migration Management and Development at IOM Sudan.
Additional support to the airport will include the rehabilitation of screening and isolation facilities, and the training of front-line border officers on infection prevention and control, Gray said.
In the wake of COVID-19 Sudan declared a nationwide health emergency, closed all airports, seaports and land crossings points, and introduced a countrywide curfew. As of 27 June, the epidemic had claimed the lives of 572 people in Sudan with 9,257 confirmed cases, according to the Federal Ministry of Health. The epidemic has burdened an already stretched national health system.
During a previous 48-hour window in March, the government opened its borders to allow about 2,000 Sudanese migrants to return via Khartoum International Airport.
Support for this activity was funded by the European Union under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United States Department of State and Sudan’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
Through its COVID-19 Sudan Response programme with WHO, which currently amounts to Euro 11.5 million, the EU further supports efforts boost the capacity of Khartoum International Airport to receive returnees and other travelers.