Ongoing conflict in Sudan: An update

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

SOS Mother with her children, living in a safe place outside Khartoum.


The families of SOS Children’s Villages Sudan, who were evacuated seven months ago from Khartoum to safer locations outside the city, have been forced to move again after the war came closer to their doorstep. 


The brutal conflict that began in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, in April 2023 has been spreading steadily to eastern and southern Sudan - parts of the country that were considered safe.  


In mid-December 2023, the Sudan team evacuated all families and staff living in Al Jazirah state when fighting expanded to the area. The families are now safe and have settled in their new location in East Sudan. 


SOS Children’s Villages Sudan continues to monitor the conflict closely and adjusts its safety protocols to unfolding events. These safety precautions include regular security assessments, emergency response plans, and coordinating closely with local authorities and humanitarian organizations.  


Abdelrahman Mubarak, the National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Sudan, says his team is working on a plan to bring all 15 families (90 children and 56 young people) together in one location. Currently, one family lives in a different state. No schools or educational activities are happening in Sudan, leaving caregivers to find ways to keep the children and young people learning at home. 


“We are working closely with authorities to obtain identity cards and passports for all children, young people, and caregivers in preparation for the next step,” says Mr. Mubarak. “This may be to evacuate the families to a neighbouring country now that we face the danger of the war expanding to more states. This decision is crucial to ensure the safety of all children and families under our care until a peaceful solution is reached in our country.”


This escalation of conflict has resulted in increased loss of life and mass displacement. According to the United Nations, more than one million people have fled to neighbouring countries like Egypt, Chad and South Sudan; internally, about six million are displaced, making Sudan the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in the world. 


Sudan also has three million children uprooted from their homes by the violence, the largest anywhere globally. According to the United Nations, one in two people in Sudan will need humanitarian assistance in 2024.


The SOS Children’s Villages Family Strengthening Programs team was able to provide cash support to the families in the program when the fighting began, but as the situation deteriorated, many of the families fled in search of safety.  


“We have not been able to get in touch with them ever since,” says Mr. Mubarak. “Lack of communication has hindered our ability to continue our support to these families.”  


The emergency program, set up in Khartoum and South Kordofan before the war, was moved to White Nile and Al Jazirah states to support families that fled to the area.  


The humanitarian action wrapped up in December 2023 and reached over 10,000 people with hygiene kits, livelihood cash, and child-friendly spaces. It also provided psychosocial support to children and adolescents through the TeamUp approach, a non-verbal movement-based intervention for children aged six to 18.  There are plans to extend the emergency program for another two years.


The SOS MAYDAY Emergency Relief Fund equips us to act swiftly and effectively to support children and families during emergencies and to build resilience against future disasters in the communities we support. Please donate to this fund to help us to respond when crises occur. 

Q&A with Abdelrahman Mubarak, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Sudan


How is the situation in Sudan, especially for children and families? What do they suffer from most? What are your greatest concerns? 


The economic situation is very bad. Most families, initially from Khartoum and Gezira states, fled their towns and villages and are living as IDPs [internally displaced persons] in other safe states. They lost their houses, money, vehicles, and all they had saved. They lost the little money they had in renting houses in their areas of refuge.  


Families cannot meet their basic needs for food, health services, clothing, etc. Families are living under the stress of being unable to support their children and youth. Schools and colleges are all closed. Families who could get financial support from relatives crossed the borders to neighbouring countries (Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda...etc.) to provide for their children’s basic needs, have a safe place to live and continue their education. Access to health services and education for children and young people is my greatest concern, as it is for most families. 


We read that all the schools are closed. Do children have any chance to go on studying? What do the school closures mean for the children’s future and the country? 


The closure of schools and colleges is a nightmare for families in the war-affected areas and even for the people living in safe states. Closure of schools means the future of the children and youth is very dim, and they all live under high stress with the feeling that their hopes and aspirations for a better future have gone. 


Did many staff in aid organizations quit their jobs? Are they able to reach the people in need? 


Most organizations are still working to provide emergency support to the affected people. They can access people in need who are living in schools, which are now utilized as gathering points for IDPs.  


How are the children and mothers from the village? In April of last year, you told us about the evacuation. Are they now in a safe place? How is their psychological state? Are you able to continue helping people in the Family Strengthening Program? 


The SOS Mothers went to their home villages and towns in different states. They are doing well, as we can provide them with financial support. 


We are moving all the families and young people to a safe state (Kassala state in East Sudan). They are all safe. The plan to evacuate them is in progress, and the preparation for that is ongoing. They are psychologically stable. 


There are great concerns about the killing and forced displacement of members of the Masalit people. It is even said that this has the characteristics of genocide. Can you comment on this? 


Yes, the characteristic of a Masalit genocide is correct. That is evident by the selected killing and forced displacement of the Masalit tribe members. However, the situation is now better as the mass killings have almost stopped.  


What could be the solution to this devastating conflict? How should the world society help? 


The solution is to stop the war immediately. The world should put more pressure on the conflicting groups to negotiate to end the war and prepare for a peaceful transition to civil rule. 

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