Briefing note – Conflict in Sudan

Around 30% of the families supported by Together Now are Sudanese.

The current conflict in Sudan has posed key challenges to the following families we work with:

  • Families applying for visas are unable to do so because of the closure of the Visa Application Centre in Khartoum. Consequently, they are making risky and expensive journeys to third countries to apply.
  • Families are unable to receive visas as they are issued because of the closure of the Visa Application Centre in Khartoum. This is also resulting in risky journeys to third countries or passengers waiting on receiving their visa after collection by a third party, causing significant delays and severely limiting their travel window.
  • The closure of Khartoum airport has meant that there are only very limited flights operating out of Port Sudan airport. This has significantly increased the cost of travel (from around £200 per person to around £450 per person now down from around £800 last autumn) and meant that families who could have funded their family’s travel are no longer able to do so.
  • New transit visa on some previously common routes (for example for travel via Saudi Arabia) and limited official information available on these has also contributed to increased costs for families to travel.
  • Families who have visas and are in the west of Sudan are unable to travel to Port Sudan to access the only operating airport due to the conflict making the roads impassable. This is also resulting in risky journeys to third countries such as South Sudan and Chad.
  • Refugees of other nationalities, for example Eritreans, who had been living in Sudan whilst waiting on their family reunion visas being issued have been forced to flee again, making risky journeys and putting them at risk of not having formal status in a third country.
  • Sponsors supporting family, including those waiting for their visas to be issued, are finding families need more money to survive, due to displacement, inability to work and high costs of accommodation in Port Sudan.
  • Families who have fled the conflict and sought sanctuary elsewhere have waited in a third country for a significant amount of time and are now large facing fines for overstaying or deportation orders.

We are asking the UK government to take the following actions too support Sudanese families seeking safety:

  • Significantly extend the period of validity on UK entry clearance visas. Note this should not only include Sudanese nationals as families of other nationalities, for example Eritreans are also adversely affected.
  • Defer requirements for biometrics until after arrival in the UK.
  • Expand the definition of ‘family member’ for family reunion entry clearance visa applications.
  • Expedite the processing of family reunion entry clearance visa applications for families affected by the conflict in Sudan, including those who have fled the country and non-Sudanese nationals.

Case studies

Sara – ‘I was expecting a call today but she didn’t call’

In early 2024 Sara had already received notice of her family reunion visa being issued. Her passport was at the visa application centre in Kenya. She had already been forced to leave her home in Nyala and was moving often to flee violence in the region.

Her husband in the UK was very aware that there was no way for her to reach Port Sudan in order to travel to the UK. Her visa had been collected by an agent and was being sent back to her in Sudan. Sara’s family had connections to Chad so over several weeks she made the journey to N’Djamena accompanied by some relatives, often not able to contact her husband. She then waited for her visa to reach her in Chad before being able to travel to the UK.

Sara’s husband worked in the UK, pre-conflict her flight to the UK would have been affordable but the financial pressure of supporting displaced family and his wife’s journey changed his situation meaning he needed charitable support.

Mohamed – ‘It was tough, but they arrived safely.🙏’

In April 2023 Khartoum airport was closed due to the conflict. Mohamed‘s family had been issued with UK entry clearance visas that expired in mid October 2023. His wife and baby son were in Port Sudan. In August flights from Port Sudan were operating on a very limited basis to Jeddah, Riyadh and Doha with no tickets available booked through to the UK.

This coupled with uncertainty around transit visa requirements in Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as availability being scarce and changing quickly made this route difficult to book. Other options via Ethiopian and Egypt posed the same issues. Sudanese nationals can also not transit in most Schengen countries causing additional limitations. It looked like there was no way for the family to each the UK before October.

At the end of August there were rumours of Egyptair flights booked through via Cairo starting in early September but they did not appear as available to book for our travel partner. When flights were available the cost of the flights was $1200 for a single adult with some dates as much as $3000 per person.

During the delay Mohamed worried for his wife and child and their safety. Emergency funding meant we could book but issues with availability meant that usual booking channels could not be used. One-way flights for mother and baby were finally secured for £1600. Many families without access to charitable support will either not have been able to have their family travel or will be in significant debt.

Ahmed – ‘My brothers arrived safely’

Ahmed is an Eritrean refugee living in the UK, his two secondary school age brothers were Eritrean refugees living in Sudan when the conflict broke out. His brothers were in the care of a friend of a friend, and he was not a dependable adult.

They escaped Sudan to Ethiopia and then to Uganda through the desert. This experience was extremely traumatic for the children and they feared the man they were travelling with and being left alone.

Despite their having family reunion entry clearance visas they could not depart Uganda without registering as refugees which caused delay to their being able to reach a safe living situation. They had no belongings on arrival in Uganda. They have since been reunited with their elder brother.

About Together Now

Our Vision: Refugees Families Reunited

Our Core Principle: All families should be able to live together, if they choose.

We want to see all refugees in the UK having access to support to be reunited with family members from when they first seek asylum to when their family has arrived and are settled into life in the UK.

What we do

Together Now provide support to reuniting refugee families. This includes:

  • Flights for the UK for families who have UK entry clearance visas.
  • Financial support with the costs of obtaining the UK entry clearance visa including TB tests and documents.
  • Financial support to facilitate travel including costs of travelling to and from airports.

Further information: |


[1] 2023-2024 (34 families) 28%, 2022-2023 (70 families) 28%, 2021-2022 (109 families) 30%