Argeen — On Tuesday, a number of Sudanese clashed with Egyptian forces near Argeen, at the border between Egypt and Sudan's Red Sea state which remains closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the evening, Sudan temporarily opened the border to let them in.
Many Sudanese visit Egypt by bus, for medical treatment or to search for work. In early April however, Sudan closed the border with its northern neighbour as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The stranded people have been urging the Sudanese authorities to allow them to return. On June 20, a convoy of eight buses left Cairo, heading for the Sudanese border. The Sudanese government reported that "arrangements are in full swing to receive Sudanese returning to their country through Khartoum Airport and other land and seaports".
Yet, large numbers of Sudanese remained in Egypt, and are still trying to cross the border.
One of them reported yesterday that Egyptian forces stopped their convoy before they reached the Argeen border crossing, and ordered them to return to Cairo.
"We refused to return. When the Egyptian forces began shooting, we threw stones at them. Some people were wounded," he said.
The Sudanese are now waiting in buses in southern Egypt "in tragic conditions. Especially the sick, elderly, and children are suffering".
The source said that there were about 23 buses with more than 1,000 Sudanese stranded in El Sebaya and 16 buses in Luxor. "We called on the Sudanese embassy in Cairo to urgently intervene, and facilitate their return to Sudan," he told Radio Dabanga in the afternoon.
Yesterday evening, the Sudanese authorities opened the border crossing. A number of buses could pass, and the wounded were immediately transferred to Argeen for treatment.
The rest of the buses began moving towards the border as well, the source reported late yesterday evening.
On July 7, measures to ward off the spread of Covid-19 were eased. In Khartoum, where at least 75 per cent of the coronavirus patients are recorded, the curfew hours were reduced from 13:00-06:00 to 18:00-05:00, and the bridges between Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North were reopened for traffic. Flights to and from Khartoum International Airport resumed partially.
On Monday however, the High Committee for Health Emergencies extended the travel ban from and to Khartoum, following "a noticeable increase" in the number of Covid-19 cases last week. As of 16 July, 10,992 coronavirus patients have been recorded in Sudan.
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