Sudanese woman flies to Egypt to rescue mother with dementia

Nahla's mum Afaf lies in bed.

Nahla Abugusseisa’s mum Afaf can barely speak or move due to her health conditions

An Oxford woman has travelled to Egypt to rescue her seriously ill mother from Sudan and bring her back to the UK.

Nahla Abugusseisa was told by her local Labour MP that the 78-year-old, who is bedridden and suffers from dementia, is “ineligible for evacuation”.

They are currently in Egypt after she spent more than £5,000 to transport her mother Afaf across the border.

At least 40,000 Sudanese civilians are travelling to Aswan in Egypt because of the conflict that began in April.

A week ago, Nahla decided to make the arduous journey to Egypt, the closest she could get to Sudan, which is currently in turmoil as clashes between the country’s two main military forces intensify.

Khartoum up in smoke during clashes between military groups.

The conflict continues in Khartoum as thousands flee the capital city

The conflict is between the Sudanese Armed Forces, currently loyal to the country’s de-facto leader Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and General Hemeti’s Rapid Support Forces.

It has led to chaos in the country, including at Khartoum International Airport, leaving many Sudanese nationals and foreigners stranded.

Eight days after the fighting began in Khartoum, Afaf’s water and electricity were shut off, and she had to evacuate to nearby Omdurman.

Nahla said: “My mum lived on water mixed with flour as it was the only food that could be put in her feeding tube because without electricity we can’t blend her food.”

Nahla Abugusseisa

Nahla has spent a week in Egypt trying to evacuate her mother across the border

She sent emails to multiple MPs, including the MP for Oxford East, Anneliese Dodds, but was told there was nothing they could do.

In a response by Miss Dodds, she wrote: “Labour has urged the government to extend these criteria to include dependent family members – but unfortunately the government have rejected these calls, and these groups remain ineligible for evacuation.”

Currently, the UK government is no longer running any evacuation operations from Sudan, and the British Embassy in Khartoum is closed.

“I can’t think about what is going to happen to me,” Nahla said. “Whatever is going to happen to my mum will happen to me. I’m fine with that. Imagine saying that to your kids.”

With the help of the Sudanese community in Oxford, Nahla arranged a private ambulance to transport her mother to the Egyptian border, but the hostile situation meant it repeatedly failed to arrive.

She said: “Every day, we arrange an ambulance to evacuate my mum, but either they are sent back by army militia or lack of petrol. And then I found out the militia is targeting ambulances specifically.”

An elderly woman rescued from Sudan rests in bed.

“I just want my mum to live in dignity,” Nahla said

On 18 May, Afaf finally made the six-and-a-half hour trip to Dongola in Sudan in more than 11 hours, and by 20 May had arrived in Aswan. Now the pair are stuck in Egypt until Nahla’s mother can claim asylum.

She said: “I am in the same situation as thousands of Sudanese people who have fled to Egypt. Even now I have her here, I have to fight to take her to the UK because my life, my house, my kids, are there.”

“In Egypt, I am a stranger – Oxford is my home, and I want to take her home to look after her.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was contacted for comment.

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