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In absence of humanitarian aid, citizen initiatives attempt to help victims of violence


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Despite a shaky truce declared in Sudan until May 11, the violence has continued, endangering civilians who were already facing shortages of medical care, basic necessities, water, and electricity. In response, citizen solidarity movements are emerging both on the ground and on social networks in an attempt to assist the countless people displaced by the conflict.

According to a United Nations report published on May 2, the deadly fighting in Sudan and the humanitarian situation in the combat zones have forced nearly half a million people to flee their homes. Of these, 334,000 people have been displaced inside the country and 114,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.

Among the internally displaced, many have found refuge in the towns of Wad Madani, Shendi and Port Sudan. In these towns, local solidarity initiatives have been set up to help feed and shelter civilians.


Road linking Wad Madani, Chendi and Port Sudan, where many of the displaced are taking refuge.

‘Volunteers have opened a few welcome centres in boarding schools or in homes where the residents have fled’

In Port Sudan, a city on the Red Sea opposite the Saudi coast, a large group of volunteers and youth have set up the Red Sea Emergency Initiative.

One of them is our Observer Al-Hassan Addallah, who told us more about how the initiative is helping those who fled for the coast. 

The goal of the initiative is to prepare Port Sudan to welcome people from all over the country who have come to the city. Volunteers have opened a few welcome centres in boarding schools or in homes where the residents have fled. At the moment, 186 people are staying in these homes. 

Temporary accommodation and basic necessities in Port Sudan. Screenshots taken from the Red Sea Emergency Initiative Facebook page on May 5, 2023. © Observers

Other solidarity operations, especially those initiated by the Congress of Beja People’s Graduates, have provided temporary accommodation and food to displaced persons, whether Sudanese, Yemeni or Syrian.

Volunteers prepare rooms for the displaced in Port Sudan. Images provided on May 5, 2023 by our Observer.
Volunteers prepare rooms for the displaced in Port Sudan. Images provided on May 5, 2023 by our Observer. Observers

Medicine and food prepared for the displaced by volunteers in Port Sudan. Images provided on May 5, 2023 by our Observer.
Medicine and food prepared for the displaced by volunteers in Port Sudan. Images provided on May 5, 2023 by our Observer. ©Observers

Other images of mutual aid circulated online, such as this video filmed in Shendi, a few kilometres north of Khartoum.

Sudanese people who remain trapped in conflict zones face many challenges, such as a lack of access to health care, water, electricity and food. 

‘I try to be the voice of the people who contact me’

Our Observer Koki Ali, a flight attendant, blogger and influencer with more than 75,000 followers on Facebook, has been sharing calls for help from people in need on social networks:

I am not in a safe place, because I am a resident of Khartoum. We have lost everything here. Many people have lost their homes, their jobs… Everything is closed. I myself have not had food in my house for three days, we need help. The Sudanese need medicine, food… 

Since I am a blogger with a big following in Sudan on Facebook and Instagram, I try to be the voice of the people who contact me and who need help to get their message across on social media. Some people write to me that they need food, water… I ask them for their phone number and address, and then I post them on my Facebook page, hoping that other people can contact them and help them.

Screenshots taken on Facebook on May 5, 2023 from Koki Ali's account.
Screenshots taken on Facebook on May 5, 2023 from Koki Ali’s account. © Observers

On the left, a tweet shared by Koki Ali says: “Koki, how are you? Can you get me that medicine for babies? Thanks. Its name is “prograf 1mg”. It’s urgent, for a little girl in the Umm Durman area.”

And on the right: “Hi Koki, can you make me a Facebook post? I need a car to transport 4 people from Halfaya area to Chendi, very urgently, with a suggested price. Thank you with all my heart. I request that my name not be published. The person can put their number in comments and I will contact them.”

In the capital Khartoum and the western region of Darfur, the main areas affected by the clashes between the Sudanese armed forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), delivering humanitarian aid is almost impossible.

The humanitarian teams still on the ground are trapped by gunfire and shelling, and struggling to deliver medical supplies and food to civilians.

‘To bring emergency aid to those in need, we need the parties in conflict to help us’

Germain Mwehu, spokesperson of the ICRC in Sudan, spoke to the FRANCE 24 Observers team.

On May 3, we gave some medical supplies to a hospital in Khartoum called Alban Jadeed. We gave them a “war wounded kit”. The operation was very complicated to carry out. 

Our office in Khartoum is located in the Amarat neighbourhood, right next to the airport, which is now under the control of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). There has been no end to the bombing in this area despite the ceasefires. Our warehouse, where the medical equipment is located, is further away in another area. It is under the control of the Sudanese armed forces (SAF).

Our team wanted to go to the warehouse to collect the equipment and deliver it to the hospital. But the operation was blocked for two days because we could not get sufficient security guarantees from both sides. To be able to move, we need to contact both parties and they have to guarantee that there will be no shooting on our route and at the time of our movement. This is very difficult in a context of war and limited means of communication.  

We have a new cargo ship that has landed in Port Sudan, with more medical supplies to be transported to Khartoum and Darfur. The journey itself is not a problem. But it’s expensive, you have to find trucks and fuel. The problem is knowing how to deliver this equipment to areas where there are clashes. How do we get the security guarantees? We need to keep our staff safe. To bring emergency aid to those in need, we need the parties in conflict to help us, otherwise it is impossible.


A hashtag to search for missing persons

Another online solidarity initiative has emerged on Twitter. The hashtag “Sudanese Missing” allows people to post information about their missing loved ones in hopes that someone may have news about their well-being.

Since April 15, when the conflict broke out, people have been sharing photos, names and the circumstances of their missing loved one’s last contact under this hashtag in the hope of tracing their whereabouts. 




This story originally appeared on France24

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