What about those who can't flee fighting in Sudan? Many face danger and despair (2023)

LONDON (AP) — Mahmoud almost never leaves his small apartment in east Khartoum. Electricity has been out for most of the past month, so he swelters in the summer heat. When he does venture out to find food, he leaves his mobile phone behind because of looters in the street. Otherwise, he hunkers down in fear, worried that an artillery shell could burst into his home.

Exhausted, confused and unable to escape the conflict-ravaged Sudanese capital, the young research technician tries blocking out the reality of his surroundings.

“I am reading my book collection for a second time,” he said. One work helping him get by: “Models of the Mind,” a 2021 neuroscience book about how mathematics help explain the workings of the brain.

Since the conflict broke out last month, more than 1.3 million people have fled their homes to escape Sudan’s fighting, going elsewhere in the country or across the borders. But Mahmoud and millions of others remain trapped in Khartoum and its sister cities of Bahri and Omdurman, unable to leave the central battleground between Sudan’s military and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary.

For them, every day is a struggle to find food, get water and charge their phones when electricity is cut off. All the while, they must avoid the fighters and criminals in the streets who rob and brutalize pedestrians, loot shops and storm into homes to steal whatever of value they can find.

Dollars have become hard to find and dangerous to hold, a target for looters. Amazingly, Bankak, the banking app of the Bank of Khartoum, continues to function most of the time. It has become a lifeline for many, allowing users to transfer money and make payments electronically.

(Video) Fighting in Sudan: Women and children are the most vulnerable as conflict worsens • FRANCE 24

Mahmoud uses the app to pay the one shop owner he visits to stock up on canned goods. During weeks when electricity was out, the shop owner still gave him what he needed and let him pay later. A technology company that Mahmoud worked for before the fighting puts 30,000 Sudanese pounds — around $50 — on his app account every few weeks.

That transfer allows him to keep eating. “If I have money in my bank account and Bankak is operating, everything will be good,” he said. Like others who spoke to The Associated Press, Mahmoud asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of reprisals.

Since April 15, the Sudanese army, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamden Dagalo, have been locked in a violent power struggle that has turned the once sleepy Khartoum into an urban battlefield. More than 800 civilians have been killed, according to the Sudan Doctor’s Union.

On Monday a week-long cease-fire began, the conflict’s seventh, with fighting easing across parts of the city. But gunbattles and bombardments still continue despite the pledge made by both forces in Saudi Arabia. Residential areas and hospitals have been pounded by army airstrikes, while RSF troops have commandeered homes and turned them into bases.

The more immediate danger is often the armed men and looters in the streets. Waleed, another resident of east Khartoum, said he has had several terrifying encounters. In one case, he saw around 30 RSF fighters, some who looked no older than 15, tormenting a passerby, waving their weapons at him and demanding he lie on the ground, then shouting at him to stand up.

(Video) Sudan's conflict explained in 5 minutes: ‘Lawlessness on the streets of Khartoum’

“They were playing with him like a puppet,” Waleed said.

Many can’t afford to leave. Mahmoud wants to get to Ethiopia, then to Portugal where he been offered a position as a research technician. But he doesn’t have the $2,500 he estimates the trip will cost him. Waleed said he can’t leave for medical reasons.

Others say they have no choice but to stay and work. One of the many women who sell tea in the streets of Khartoum, Tana Tusafi, a single mother from Ethiopia, says her four children depend on her. “I have no one to provide for me, so I have to work,” she said.

The dangers are unpredictable. Mahmoud said that last week RSF fighters in a neighboring building started shooting at his apartment block, believing an army sniper could be there after seeing lights inside. Mahmoud said he had to confront the troops and convince them his block was only filled with civilians.

Another resident, Fatima, said her brother disappeared after having coffee with friends on May 13. That first evening when he didn’t come home, “I thought he might have stayed over at his friend’s house,” Fatima said.

(Video) What's Happening with the Conflict in Sudan?

On Monday, Khalid finally returned. For eight days, he had been detained and interrogated by the RSF, Fatima said.

The Missing Person Initiative, an online tracker where people can report missing loved ones, said it has reports of at least 200 people unaccounted for in the capital region. It said it has received multiple reports of individuals being detained by the paramilitary.

Darker still is the growing number of rape and sexual assault allegations. According to Hadhreen, a community-led health and crisis group, there have been at least 10 confirmed rape cases in the capital area. Seven were committed by RSF soldiers, it said, while the three others were by unknown attackers within RSF-held areas.

The reports of sexual violence harken back to the Darfur conflict of the early 2000s, during which the Janjaweed militia was accused of widespread rapes and other atrocities. Many of its fighters were later folded into the RSF. They were again accused of raping dozens of women when they broke up a pro-democracy protest camp in Khartoum in 2019.

In this landscape of fear, those who remain in the city find ways to get by. Some store owners operate out of their homes, hoping to hide from the looters.

Waleed said only one remaining bakery serves his neighborhood and two others. Each customer registers their name beforehand

“If you were lucky and registered your name at 7 o’clock in the morning you might get your bread at 12 noon,” Waleed said. He too survives because of Bankak, on money that his family in Saudi Arabia puts into his account.

(Video) Thousands of Americans stranded in Sudan war zone

During the first weeks of May, there was no electricity in his neighborhood, so Waleed relied on a nearby mosque with a generator to charge his phone. But no electricity meant no running water.

“We roamed around with buckets to trying to find people who have electric generators who can activate their water pumps,” he said. Last week, the electric company restored power in his area.

Most of the city’s hospitals have also shut down, many of them damaged in bombardments or ground fighting. Since May 11 alone, there have been 11 attacks on humanitarian facilities in the capital, the World Health Organization reported. Community action groups, led in part by a grassroots pro-democracy network known as the Resistance Committees, have banded together to help treat Khartoum’s sick and deliver medicines.

Hadeel Abdelsayed, a trainee doctor at one community clinic, said patients have died because they did not have enough oxygen. The clinic was eventually evacuated due to intense shelling.

Mahmoud, the researcher, said that if he can somehow secure the funding, he will try to make his escape to Ethiopia. But time is against him.

“My passport will expire in 10 weeks, so I will have to leave before then.”


What is the main problem in Sudan? ›

Ongoing intercommunal violence. Continued conflict has caused further displacement and insecurity in border regions of Sudan. Limited state authority and unresolved local disputes over scarce land and natural resources in Darfur, Kordofan and Kassala drove increased fighting and displacement throughout 2022.

What was the cause of the Sudan civil war? ›

Civil war was sparked in 1983 when the military regime tried to impose sharia law as part of its overall policy to "Islamicize" all of Sudan. Beginning in 1983, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) led insurrections in the south, a region dominated by Animists and Christians.

Why is Sudan at war 2023? ›

The conflict began with attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on government sites. Airstrikes, artillery, and gunfire were reported across Sudan including in Khartoum.

When did the Sudan war start 2023? ›

The Sudanese government reported that almost 5,000 people have been injured since the conflict began on 15 April.

Why is Sudan unsafe? ›

Armed conflict is ongoing throughout Sudan and includes heavy fighting between various political and security groups. The situation is violent, volatile, and extremely unpredictable, particularly in the capital city Khartoum.

What is so special about Sudan? ›

It is one of many African Arab countries. Although it is not a very viable tourist destination, there is so much about this nation that may interest you. Sudan is known for its large coastline of about 900km. It is also famous for its proximity to the Red Sea, the confluence of the River Nile, and its Gum Arabic.

Who is behind Sudan war? ›

At the heart of the clashes are two men: Sudan's military ruler and head of the army Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (widely known as Hemedti), the country's deputy and head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group.

What is currently happening in Sudan? ›

Sudan is on the brink of collapse as forces loyal to two rival generals are battling for control of the resource-rich North African nation. The ongoing conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations.

How did the Sudan civil war affect people? ›

Half a million people died in the First Sudanese Civil War (1955–1972). Two million people died in the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005). An estimated 300,000 died in the war in Darfur. Other conflicts in eastern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile were also hugely destructive.

Is there an ongoing war in Sudan? ›

In Sudan, there is still no break in the fighting. As civilians continue to flee the capital, the area around the presidential palace is the focus of the latest fierce battles. The Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accuse each other of violating an extended ceasefire.

How many wars are going on right now in 2023? ›

Seven Global Conflicts to Watch in 2023.

Why did Sudan split into two countries? ›

It was the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, until its split into two countries in 2011 after southern Sudan voted for independence. This followed decades of struggle by the mainly Christian and Animist south against rule by the Arab Muslim north.

When did America bomb Sudan? ›

August 20, 1998

How many people have fled from Sudan? ›

An ongoing refugee crisis began in Africa in mid-April 2023 after the outbreak of the 2023 Sudan conflict. By 29 May 2023, more than 350,000 had fled the country, while 1.8 million had been internally displaced.

How long has Sudan been at war? ›

Sudan has suffered three internal wars spanning more than 40 years of its 67 years as a nation. Two rival generals are now battling in the capital Khartoum, raising fears of another ruinous conflict.

Are Americans safe in Sudan? ›

Do not travel to Sudan due to armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.

Can U.S. citizens visit Sudan? ›

U.S. citizens must obtain an entry visa from a Sudanese embassy before arriving in Sudan. There is one exception to this requirement: U.S. citizens possessing a Sudanese national identification document (such as a Sudanese passport, alien registration card, or national identification card).

How many U.S. citizens are in Sudan? ›

Fewer Than 5,000 US Citizens Estimated to Remain in Sudan Amid Conflict.

How is life like in Sudan? ›

Life for many of Sudan's population of 43.85 million (2020) is harsh. The country has suffered from years of civil war, and millions are displaced with many living in refugee camps both within and outside of the country.

How do you say hello in Sudanese? ›

The correct way to greet a large group of Sudanese Arabs is to lift your right hand up and loudly announce “Salam”. This greeting is appropriate for both acquaintances and strangers. To use the traditional Arabic greeting, say “As-Salam Alaykum” (May peace be upon you).

Is Sudan a rich or poor country? ›

Sudan is one of the poorest countries of the world. Most of the population lives in unbelievably hard conditions. One of the Sahel countries, Sudan is located in the Sahara desert. Hard climate conditions and lack of natural resources were always responsible for the poor life conditions.

Who invaded Sudan? ›

Having conquered the Sudan, the British now had to govern it. But the administration of this vast land was complicated by the legal and diplomatic problems that had accompanied the conquest.

What was the biggest war in Sudan? ›

Sudan's longest civil war, from 1983 to 2005, involved not just southern Sudan but the people of the Nuba mountains, Blue Nile and eastern Sudan as well, and the peace agreement of 2005 left those other conflicts unresolved.

What two groups are fighting in Sudan? ›

Who is fighting in Sudan? The clashes in Sudan are between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, led by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Why are Sudanese leaving Sudan? ›

People are fleeing Sudan's conflict for an uncertain future as refugees : NPR. People are fleeing Sudan's conflict for an uncertain future as refugees Refugees from Sudan have poured into nearby countries because of on-going fighting between rival factions.

What is the religion of Sudan? ›

Religious Demography. The U.S. government estimates the total population at 46.8 million (midyear 2021). 2020 Pew Research Center data estimates that 91 percent of the population is Muslim, 5.4 percent Christian, 2.8 percent follow folk religions, and the remainder follow other religions or are unaffiliated.

What is the biggest problem in South Sudan? ›

Conflict in South Sudan has reduced harvests, which has led to a lack of food. In many cases, this means an increase in poaching and cattle theft, which in turn leads to more conflicts. An economic crisis due to a drop in oil prices and COVID-19 is also contributing to the country's hunger crisis.

How many people were affected by the Sudan war? ›

The fighting has turned urban areas into battlefields and displaced nearly 700,000 people on top of the 3.7 million who had already been internally displaced within the country before the conflict began, according to the U.N. migration agency.

Where is the fighting in Sudan? ›

In the current conflict in Sudan, which began in April, the de-facto government and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) — a paramilitary group that grew out of the Janjaweed — have been vying for power, with much of the fighting centered on Sudan's capital, Khartoum.

What do homes in Sudan look like? ›

The traditional, rectangular or square box-house (bayt jalus) with a flat roof, made of pure dried clay, sun-dried mud, brick or cow-dung plaster (zibala), continues to be the dominant architectural type in Sudan. In its pure form, wooden frames are used only for the roof, windows and doors.

How did the Sudan war end? ›

The fighting ended in 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and John Garang, who was the leader of the southern independence movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The United States played a large role in reaching the peace agreement.

What happened after the Sudan war? ›

A Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed on 9 January 2005 in Nairobi. The terms of the peace treaty were: The south had autonomy for six years, followed by a referendum on independence (the South Sudanese independence referendum, 2011).

Who is at war right now 2023? ›

Download Table Data
CountryCasualty range 2022Type
Russia10,000+Russo-Ukrainian War
Ukraine10,000+Russo-Ukrainian War
Afghanistan1,000 to 10,000Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency
Burkina Faso1,000 to 10,000Terrorist Insurgency
28 more rows

How often is America at war? ›

The United States has officially declared war 11 times during five separate military conflicts. According to the Constitution (Article I, Section 8), Congress has the exclusive power to declare war.

What country is at war right now? ›

Countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are all currently experiencing civil wars, resulting in significant casualties and displacement. Drug wars are another form of conflict that can result in significant violence and unrest.

How big was Sudan before it split? ›

Before its break up, Sudan was Africa's biggest country at 2.5 million square kilometres. At 1.86m square kilometres it is still the third largest, behind Algeria (2.4m) and the DR Congo (2.34m).

Is Sudan still split? ›

Until 2011, they were one country. That year, following decades of civil war, the southern section seceded, becoming one of the world's newest nations: South Sudan. Here's a short primer on this troubled region and what Oxfam is doing to help.

What happened in Sudan 2023? ›

Sudan is going through the most complex crisis in its contemporary history. It started with an attempted coup by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15, 2023, which turned into a rebellion. The crisis generated an unprecedented number of causalities, widespread human suffering and devastation.

What ended the first Sudan war? ›

Mediation between the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), both of which spent years building up trust with the two combatants, eventually led to the Addis Ababa Agreement of March 1972 which marked the end of the conflict.

Is Sudan in Asia or Africa? ›

Sudan lies at the crossroads of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, bordering the Red Sea.

When did Sudan take over? ›

On 25 October 2021, the Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took control of the Government of Sudan in a military coup. At least five senior government figures were initially detained.

Does Sudan accept refugees? ›

Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) situations are managed by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). Following its long tradition, Sudan continues to generously host refugees and asylum-seekers with 1,143,339 individuals reported in September 2022.

Who are the lost people of Sudan? ›

The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of Dinka youth who fled civil war in their native country, spent a decade growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, and were eventually resettled in the United States. The Dinka are the largest ethnic group in southern Sudan.

Are there lost girls of Sudan? ›

Though the plight of Sudan's Lost Boys has been documented widely and for years, a series of bureaucratic decisions left the Lost Girls virtually forgotten. “Girls have been marginalized totally, given no opportunity to do anything,” says Micklina Pia Peter, the first Lost Girl to arrive in Colorado.

When was Sudan freed? ›

On 1 January 1956, Sudan was duly declared an independent state. After Sudan became independent, the Jaafar Nimeiry regime began Islamist rule. This exacerbated the rift between the Islamic North, the seat of the government, and the Animists and Christians in the South.

Was Sudan in World war 1? ›

The Sudan played no direct role in the war. In September 1914, Wingate offered to send eight companies to Nimule, in the south of the country, for service in Uganda. However, reinforcements eventually came from India (WO 106/574).

Why did Sudan become poor? ›

Sudan is one of the poorest developing countries in the world with over 40% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan results from a combination of factors ranging from the country's location in the Sahara desert to rampant government corruption.

What major problem is occurring in Sudan and South Sudan? ›

More than a decade after independence, South Sudan remains impacted by fragility, economic stagnation, and instability. Poverty is ubiquitous, exacerbated by conflict, displacement, and external shocks.

What is the main conflict between Sudan and South Sudan? ›

In December 2013, President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar and 10 others of attempting a coup d'état. Machar denied trying to start a coup and fled to lead the SPLM – in opposition (SPLM-IO). Fighting broke out between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and SPLM-IO, igniting the civil war.

How safe is Sudan? ›

Do not travel to Sudan due to armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.

How much of Sudan is poor? ›


The most recent official estimates of poverty in Sudan are based on the 2014/15 National Household Budget and Poverty Survey (NHBPS). At the time, an estimated 36.1 percent of Sudan's population had levels of per capita expenditure below the national poverty line.

What are some facts about Sudan poverty? ›

High Poverty Rate.

South Sudan has a population of about 12 million people. The overwhelming majority of the population, about 80%, resides in rural areas. According to the World Bank's latest estimates, about 82% of South Sudanese people endure poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 per day.

What is the current war in Sudan? ›

On April 15, 2023, violent conflict erupted between two rival groups in Sudan: the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Fighting has happened primarily in urban centers, which is why civilian casualties have been so high: Over 600 civilians have died and more than 5,000 are injured.

Why are people fighting in South Sudan? ›

Violent conflicts in South Sudan almost always involve human rights violations and abuses and crimes under international law. They are a primary cause of the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

What human rights are being violated in Sudan? ›

The experts deplored human rights abuses experienced by “civilians of all ages”, including sexual assault and gender-based violence, and shortages of food, water and healthcare.

Who is fighting in the Sudan? ›

Who is fighting in Sudan? The clashes in Sudan are between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, led by Gen.

What are four issues of concern that affect lives of people in South Sudan? ›

34,000 people living in displacement in protection of civilian (POC) sites. 1.4 million children suffering malnutrition. 483,000 women suffering malnutrition. 809,000 people affected by floods that began in May of 2021.

What is the newest country in the world? ›

1. South Sudan. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after years of civil war, but violence continues to ravage the world's newest country. Civil War erupted in South Sudan in 2013 and continues today, as political leaders from different ethnic groups vie for power.

How to solve South Sudan conflict? ›

What should be done? South Sudan's leaders should strengthen pre-election power sharing and broaden the peace deal to include other parties. They should not rush to polls, if conflict looms, and seek a political settlement decentralising governance and cementing national power sharing.

Does Sudan have conflict? ›

Sudan has suffered three internal wars spanning more than 40 years of its 67 years as a nation. Two rival generals are now battling in the capital Khartoum, raising fears of another ruinous conflict.


1. Is Sudan heading towards a new civil war? • FRANCE 24 English
(FRANCE 24 English)
2. Is Sudan’s conflict beyond control? | The Stream
(Al Jazeera English)
3. Sudan: Residents Trapped Between Warring Rival Factions as Humanitarian Crisis Escalates
(Democracy Now!)
4. What’s happening in Sudan? | Start Here
(Al Jazeera English)
5. Sudan Armed Conflict: Army Withdraws From Truce Talks | World Today
(Channels Television)
6. Why 2 Armies are Fighting in Sudan? Fighting erupts in Sudan’s capital
(African Insider )


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