CEPO bashes Wau police for charging Sudanese refugees for travel permits

The Western Bahr el Ghazal State office of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has strongly condemned the Immigration Department office in the state for charging Sudanese refugees fleeing war in their country for travel permits.

A travel permit seen by Radio Tamazuj issued in May 2024 to a Sudanese refugee named Elias Abdallaziz Mustafa shows he was charged SSP 45,000 for a travel permit.

Abdallaziz who did not find a refugee settlement in Wau was proceeding to Juba where there is a camp for Sudanese refugees.

However, the CEPO office in Wau has copies of similar travel permits and this prompted the organization’s state coordinator, Stephen Robo Musa, to condemn the immigration office for what he referred to as a violation of refugee rights.

“We have noted that the immigration office in Western Bahr el Ghazal State has charged some refugees who have come to the state and are traveling from one location to another by issuing travel permits and temporary travel permits and yet they have documents and evidence shows that they are refugees,” he charged,

Robo contends that the eruption of war in Sudan on 15 April 2023 is akin to what happened in South Sudan in December 2013 which forced people to flee to Sudan and other countries for protection.

“We know that Sudan is now in crisis and people are fleeing for safer areas and this is the same experience that we South Sudanese went through when we entered into a conflict in 2013 and 2016. We ran from our country to Sudan and now our friends and family members are still in Sudan struggling to come back,” he said. “It is very unfortunate to see that government officials turn a blind eye to this reality. By law, the police are not supposed to charge any refuge fees because once they have acknowledged and confirmed a person as a refugee, then the only context is protection.”

“Instead of the immigration police charging them, they are supposed to give them the necessary assistance,” Robo added.

He said the police should implement the presidential call for the people of South Sudan to welcome Sudanese fleeing their country.

“According to International norms, Sudanese who come to the country have the right to seek asylum and enjoy services including health, education and other basic needs,” Robo stated.

When contacted for comment, the Western Bahr el Ghazal State immigration office declined to comment on the matter.