The war in Sudan has forced people across the borders of neighbouring countries, most of which are already under pressure from other humanitarian crises. ForAfrika was one of the first United Nations distribution partners to provide non-food items, such as tarpaulins and dignity packs, to refugees fleeing from Sudan into South Sudan.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Khartoum, Darfur and other areas affected by fighting between rival factions of the country’s military government. The Sudanese army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces are now entering their sixth week of conflict.
Multiple ceasefires and peace talks in Saudi Arabia have failed to curb the violence. Officially, at least 1 000 people have been killed and more than 800 000 have been displaced, with about 250 000 fleeing to neighbouring countries such as Chad, Egypt and South Sudan. According to the International Organization for Migration, if the fighting continues, it is estimated that more than a million refugees will move into these countries.
Those displaced have lost their homes and livelihoods, and have little to no access to medical care, food, water or shelter.
Last weekend, ForAfrika, which has programmes in South Sudan, distributed essential items to about 1 900 people who are sheltering at Wedwill Payam Transit Centre in Aweil, near the northern border with Sudan.
But more needs to be done.
After an assessment at the centre, Philip Thon Garang, ForAfrika’s manager in Aweil, said, “The situation here is dire – there are no latrines, people have to trek an hour to the nearest borehole and there isn’t enough food to eat. Shelter, dignity kits for women, jerry cans, mats, mosquito nets and food are required.”
Salah Yusra, one of the women refugees at the centre, told ForAfrika, “We were woken in the middle of the night by a barrage of bullets. We took cover in the bush for two nights – but the situation got worse. On the third day, we followed a group of people who were running to South Sudan. We did not know what to expect, but we just wanted to go somewhere safe. There is nothing I can provide for my kids. We lost everything and brought nothing with us, except for a few clothes. We have not eaten real food since we were brought here three days ago. My children have been surviving on milk provided by some good Samaritans in the nearby community. It is what I am boiling now for them.”
Fellow refugee Madini Ahmed said, “When we reached the border, I was just remembering what we had witnessed. They brought us to this place from the border; I feel relieved. We got to sleep for the first time in two weeks, although the conditions here are not good. We feel a bit safer here, even though we just sit around the whole day. If I could get some small capital to help me start a small chai business – I would be able to raise a little money to buy food for my family. Back in Darfur, I used to do some small trading. Here I feel so helpless.”
Arafa Sheikmusa concurred, saying, “We were living a good life in Darfur until things started going wrong … Several conflicts have come and gone, but this one is the worst of them. Me and my family saw people being killed for no reason; our neighbours and friends were killed, too. That is when we decided to run away. We trampled over several dead bodies. We are really lucky to be alive and we thank Allah for saving us. My children are still traumatised; that is why they are crying and hiding behind me – the camera reminds them of guns they saw being used to kill people.”
South Sudan is already a country under severe pressure, with millions of its own people dependent on aid because of conflict and natural disasters such as flooding and drought.
The UN has made an urgent appeal for $3-billion to help 18-million people this year, making it the largest appeal ever issued for Sudan. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said, “Humanitarians are working hard to respond but we need – once again – to call on countries and individuals with the means to step up and provide the resources, so we can help people who have lost everything.”
You can assist some of those affected by donating today: https://www.forafrika.org/our-work/