Sudanese left stranded as European embassies hold their passports

Sudanese left stranded as European embassies hold their passports
Frustration is growing among Sudanese who have been left high and dry without their passports as embassy staff have caught flights out of Khartoum.
3 min read
28 April, 2023
Many seeking escape from Sudan have been left trapped by bureacracy [Getty]

Sudanese citizens have been left stranded after European embassy staff evacuated the country without returning passports that were being held for visa processing.

Both the Dutch and Swedish foreign ministries have informed visa applicants that their passports cannot be returned, adding to the chaos as people try to escape fighting between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese army. 

"We advise to apply for a new passport with your local authorities," the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted after all their staff were air-lifted out of the capital. 

Sudanese citizens applying for UK visas have also shared responses from the British embassy informing them that their passports are being held until further notice. 

"Kindly note that due to the current situation in Sudan, the Visa Application Centre in Khartoum is closed until further notice," read one email purportedly sent by the embassy.

The Swiss, German, and Spanish embassies have also allegedly sent out similar responses to citizens pleading for their documents back so that they can exit the country amid the heavy fighting.

In past conflicts, embassy staff have often been the very last to leave, ensuring that all documents were safely returned before evacuation. 

The situation is even more dire for the many stateless refugees in Sudan, who have found themselves with nowhere to go. 

Syrian, Yemeni, and Rohingya residents of Sudan have all found themselves adrift as other governments fly in to rescue their citizens. 

Videos on social media have shown several groups appealing for assistance from other states. 

“We, the Yemeni community in Khartoum, are appealing for help,” says one of the students stuck in the Sudanese capital. “We, the students, are calling for help after living under constant bombings, warplane shelling and the sounds of bombardments”.

Some countries are allowing small numbers of refugees on board their flights out - such as the evacuation to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that took place yesterday. 

Among the 234 people who were flown to Baghdad International Airport on Thursday from Port Sudan were 16 Syrians, whose onward journey from Iraq is still unclear.