Osman Mirghani: Sudan needs a new political system to prevent ‘northern migration’

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About four million Sudanese live and work in Egypt. And many intend to follow. Up to at least eight daily flights depart from Khartoum International Airport with Sudanese leaving their country for good in search of a better life for their families in Egypt. Osman Mirghani, editor of the Sudanese newspaper El Tayar newspaper, wrote in an opinion piece published in Erem News of this “northern migration”.

For many years, Sudanese patients have been coming to the Egyptian capital for treatment. It’s better and cheaper than in their home country, they say. Those who cannot afford a plane ticket travel by bus along the Nile to the north. The number of Sudanese-Egyptian buses often exceeds thirty, a traveler told Radio Dabanga early last year.

Yet since the military coup on October 25 last year, Sudanese, and especially young people, have lost hope for a stable income and fear for the future. Married men are looking for jobs abroad because they can no longer support their families on their Sudanese salary. due to the persistence of high inflation. Those who cannot find work in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf try their luck in Egypt.

Many students are also enrolling in Egyptian universities, as Sudanese universities are intermittently closed and reportedly lower standard. And Sudanese who have good incomes, buy a second home in Cairo, “just in case, for when all hell breaks loose in Sudan”.

“The political crisis in Sudan has completely paralyzed the country. Most factories and projects are on the verge of bankruptcy. Even small businesses have withered like leaves in the dry season, but the biggest calamity is that there is no prospect of getting out of the tunnel, Osman Mirghani, editor of the Sudanese newspaper El Tayar newspaper, wrote in an opinion piece, published in the United Arab Emirates Erem News earlier this month.

Following a “visit to ‘Secure Egypt’ as the famous poem by Sudanese Sheikh El Bur’i puts it”, Mirghani said he was shocked when he learned of the large number of Sudanese living in Egypt “which reveals how the Sudanese crisis has reached ”.

“Migration to Egypt is no longer just an escape from a miserable economic situation in Sudan, but rather a search for a life that meets standards of dignity” – Osman Mirghani

“Nobody knows the consequences of the rushing torrent of the migration season to the North,” he says, referring to the famous novel written by Tayeb Salih.

Mirghani mentions that 22,000 Sudanese students study in Egyptian public universities. They pay “the same fees as Egyptian students, all colleges are open to them without exception*.

“There are more than 110 Sudanese schools to accommodate the increasing number of students who prefer to follow the Sudanese curriculum and courses, and last year more than 4,000 Sudanese students sat for Sudanese secondary school exams in Egypt. [..] “Migration to Egypt is no longer just an escape from a miserable economic situation in Sudan, but rather a search for a life that meets standards of dignity.”

In an analysis of the current crisis in Sudan, the editor-in-chief particularly blames the country’s political parties. “It is not possible to count on a reform of the political behavior of the parties in the near future, because they are still in their old delirium, unable to criticize themselves and review their biography and their trajectory, thus reproducing old errors.

Therefore, the Sudanese political system should be restructured “so that it does not become dependent on the existing political system, however rational or flawed it may be. “It’s not a new invention. Rather, it’s what all stable, developed countries do, making what’s for politics for politics and what for administration is for administration. [..] “The solution to this problem is contained in legislation that prevents political regimes from invading the institution of public service, so that the political playing field is limited to the sovereign domain that expresses ‘authority’ and not the ‘government’.

“Otherwise the emigrants will not return, but others will follow,” the article concludes.


* In 2004, Egypt and Sudan signed the so-called Four Freedoms Convention, allowing free movement of citizens between the two “brother countries”, as well as work and possession of property without special permits. Soon however, it became clear that Sudanese men still needed visas to cross the northern border. In 2018, authorities in Cairo demanded that certain clauses of the agreement be amended, including officially restricting the entry of Sudanese into Egypt.


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