In the sandy courtyard of a school turned into a shelter for displaced people in northern Sudan, two children play with a ball. Around them, dozens of weary individuals, who have been fleeing the war for months, wait for entry visas to Egypt.
There is little else the displaced can do in the town of Wadi Halfa, located about 20 kilometers from the Egyptian border.
Around 25,000 displaced individuals, according to activists, are waiting in the town, hoping for permission to enter Egypt and escape the war that erupted on April 15 between the Sudanese army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Out of a million Sudanese who have sought refuge in neighboring countries, 310,000 have managed to enter Egypt. However, thousands are still waiting at the borders.
Aaref Al-Zubeir, a 36-year-old architect who fled to Wadi Halfa in the first month of the war, says, “I lost my passport, and I’ve been waiting to get a new one since mid-May.”
The man sleeps on a thin mattress placed on the floor in a room that was once a classroom.
He adds, “I sent my family to Cairo when it was still easy.” At the start of the war, only men under 50 needed a visa to enter Egypt, while women and children could cross without one.
However, Egyptian authorities tightened the requirements later on to curb the flow of refugees.
Adi Mohammed, a coordinator for a group of volunteer organizations organizing the lives of the displaced in Wadi Halfa, says, “According to the latest figures, there are still 8,150 displaced individuals in 53 shelters in the town.”
He adds, “More than 15,000 others are staying with local families or renting apartments.”