Sudanese shocked by video of man’s murder sent to his WhatsApp contacts

The friends and family of a missing man in Khartoum discovered he had been murdered when the murderers sent a gruesome video of his body to all of his WhatsApp contacts. The man’s family believe that the paramilitary group the Rapid Support Forces was behind the killing – as the man had supposedly been caught filming them looting a home. The video is proof of just one more human rights abuse since a new war began in the country in April. 

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Warning: Some of the content in this article may be disturbing to some readers.

The men killed Shihab Shakkab. Then, they used Shakkab’s phone to send a video of his murder to all of his contacts. 

The video, which lasts slightly longer than a minute, shows Shakkab, lifeless but with his eyes frozen open. He’s on the marble floor of a home, wearing a bloody t-shirt. A chain around his torso ties him to a red post. 

You can hear the voice of the man filming Shakkab’s body, though you don’t see him. 

He addresses the victim’s brother, Osama Shakkab.

“Here’s your brother, look at the state he’s in. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. As he did to our brothers, we are doing the same thing to him. I will send you the photos he took along with this photo. Look closely at these photos and you’ll see that he is reaping what he sowed,” the man says.

He touches the face of the victim, putting his fingers in his eyes and poking his cheeks. 

“You see, there? He’s dead, his eyes are extinguished. He’s dead, dead, dead.”

You can also hear the voice of another man, also offscreen, who whispers words to the man filming, which he then repeats. 

These are screengrabs of a video published as a story on WhatsApp and sent to the victim’s contacts using his telephone. © Observers

On July 30, Shakkab’s friends, family and neighbours in the central Al Ardha neighbourhood posted calls on Twitter and Facebook for anyone with information about Shakkab’s murder or the whereabouts of his body to reach out to them. 

Once news of the video reached Shakkab’s neighbors, many of them also spoke out about the horrific “mutilation of his body”. Many blame the Sudanese paramilitary group the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which the victim had allegedly encountered the day before his death.

The RSF are a paramilitary group that originally reported to the country’s military intelligence department. Many members are former Arab militiamen who participated in the conflict in Darfur. Used as supplementary forces to the army of the former dictator Omar Al Bashir, deposed in 2019, they allied with the Sudanese Army to overthrow the civilian government in the 2021 coup d’état.

However, the leader of the RSF, General Mohamed Hamdan Dogolo has since turned against the military regime. 

‘The video remained online for 24 hours as a story on Shihab’s WhatsApp’  

Mosaab Aljak is a shopkeeper who lives in Omdurman and was good friends with Shakkab. He spoke to our team.

On July 28, Shihab Sakkak came across a group of the Rapid Support Forces who were pillaging homes in the Al Ardha neighbourhood, in the centre of Omdurman. He started filming them with his telephone to document their crimes. However, a neighbour started filming Shihab filming the RSF and that video got back to the RSF who control the neighbourhood.

The next evening, RSF fighters stormed into his home where Shihab was with a friend. The fighters demanded that he turn over his telephone. They came across the videos that he had filmed of them the night before. They let his friend go, but they shot Shihab in the leg and took him away to an unknown location.

About ten hours later, they published the video of his body on his WhatsApp account. Someone narrating the video said “because he filmed us, apparently stealing something, we are making an example out of him for others.” The video stayed up for 24 hours.


Mosab Aljak, a good friend of the deceased, posted this call for information on Facebook on July 31.

‘My friend’s assassins wanted to get a ransom’

We weren’t sure if Shihab was still alive or was dead. But without any news from him or the men who took him, we concluded that he was dead. 

On July 30, I was contacted by someone anonymous who claimed that they had found Shihab, but they wanted money in exchange for information. They said that our friend was in detention but alive.  

But I didn’t believe him – it was clear that my friend’s assassins wanted to get a ransom on top of killing him. So, we didn’t respond. 

I worked with neighbours and his family to try and find out more about what happened to him, both by word of mouth and social media. We were hoping, at least, to find his body in order to bury him. And we did finally find his body on August 2 near some water to the east of the city. 

Because the area is far from Al Arda and rain has made travel very difficult, we had to bury Shihab there, not far from the waterway. He was only 46 and was the father to two children. May he rest in peace. 

Rapid Support Forces blamed by family and Sudanese army

Shakkab’s friends and family blame the Rapid Support Forces. The Sudanese Army as well as the Association of Professional Pharmacists – a Sudanese union that fights for rights and the democratic process – both condemned Shakkab’s murder and also blamed the RSF.

In a Twitter statement addressed to Pramila Patten, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dogolo said that his force “reaffirms its unwavering commitment to international humanitarian law, its respect for the fundamental principles of human rights, and its rejection of any abuses or assaults against civilians during the ongoing war,” while also promising “the RSF’s full cooperation with the UN in investigating any allegations of human rights violations.” The post didn’t mention the accusations about Shakkab’s death specifically.

The FRANCE 24 Observers team wasn’t able to establish proof that the RSF had killed Shakkab from the video alone. We put these allegations to the RSF on social media on August 3, but they did not respond. If they do respond, we will update this article to include it. 

Since armed fighting between the Sudanese Army and the RSF broke out in April 2023, at least 1,135 civilians have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health, which added that this number is likely “the tip of the iceberg.” Other international NGOs like ACLED say that there have been over 3,900 deaths.

Activists and human rights groups report that at least 580 civilians have been killed in Khartoum alone since the start of the conflict



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No, this video does not show the Wagner Group ‘surrendering’ in Sudan

Since the start of the war in Sudan between government troops and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the role of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, said to have links to the paramilitary forces, has remained unclear. Against this backdrop, social media users shared a video which they claimed shows Wagner soldiers surrendering to the Sudanese army. But the video was actually filmed during the evacuation of Russian embassy staff from Sudan by regular Russian troops at the start of the conflict in the spring of 2023.

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If you only have a minute:

  • A video of a military convoy is being shared with captions suggesting the Wagner militia in Sudan has “surrendered” to the Sudanese armed forces.
  • We were able to geolocate the video to Khartoum, Sudan.
  • Our team compared it with images taken during the evacuation of Russian diplomats from Sudan in May. We determined that one of the vehicles in the viral video is the same as one of the vehicles used during the evacuation, which allows us to conclude that the video was filmed during the evacuation of diplomatic staff from the Russian embassy on May 2nd, 2023.
  • The Wagner Group is said to have links to General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, whose RSF forces have been fighting the government since April.

The fact-check in detail:

A video was posted on Twitter on July 16 (archive here) with a caption claiming it shows soldiers employed by the paramilitary Wagner Group, dedicated to defending Russia’s foreign interests, talking with government forces in Sudan. 

A man in uniform can be seen taking a video of himself next to a man speaking Russian on the phone.

Behind them is a white car, followed by at least four military vehicles marked with a “Z”, a symbol painted on Russian military equipment involved in the war in Ukraine. The video garnered more than 86,000 views.

A July 16 tweet purporting to show Wagner mercenaries in Sudan. © Observateurs Capture d’écran Twitter @khalidalbaih

 

Posts shared the same day in English and Arabic on Facebook claimed that the video showed Wagner mercenaries surrendering to Sudanese troops. They garnered more than 11,000 views.

Video posted on Facebook on July 16, allegedly showing the Wagner group surrendering to Sudanese armed forces.
Video posted on Facebook on July 16, allegedly showing the Wagner group surrendering to Sudanese armed forces. © Observateurs Capture d’écran Twitter

Wagner is said to have links with the RSF of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as Hemedti. But since the RSF have been fighting the regular Sudanese army, Wagner’s role and position is unclear in Sudan. Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who moved the group’s base to Belarus after a short-lived rebellion against Russian president Vladimir Putin in June, has said there are no Wagner personnel on the ground in Sudan.

A video taken in Khartoum

Some elements of the video raise doubts. The letter “Z” is painted on the vehicles. This symbol is often used by the regular Russian army since the start of the war in Ukraine, but rarely by Wagner’s mercenaries in Africa.

Sam Doak, a journalist at the British fact-checking outlet Logically Facts, was able to identify the location where the video was taken.


In the footage, a blue petrol station can be seen in the background. If you search for petrol stations in Sudan, you can see that the brand Oil Libya matches this colour. 

By searching for the petrol station in Khartoum, the city where the scene could have been filmed according to comments from Twitter users, we can find the exact location where the video was taken.

This is a petrol station in Khartoum North. Although there is no street-level view of the street on Google Maps, the aerial view shows the petrol station, the billboard and the large white building behind the station.

The images at the left are stills from the viral video. The image on the right shows the Google Maps aerial view of the site. You can see the petrol station (outlined in purple), the advertising hoarding (outlined in green), the small brown building (outlined in orange), and the large white building (outlined in pink) behind the station.
The images at the left are stills from the viral video. The image on the right shows the Google Maps aerial view of the site. You can see the petrol station (outlined in purple), the advertising hoarding (outlined in green), the small brown building (outlined in orange), and the large white building (outlined in pink) behind the station. © Les Observateurs Google Maps

 

Video shows Russian embassy staff being evacuated in May 

Was this video taken recently? In the comments, people suggested that the video could have been filmed when the Russian army evacuated civilians from Sudan at the start of the fighting.

Our team searched for images on the Telegram channel of the Russian embassy in Sudan, and found a May 2 image of the white van that appears on the viral video. It is exactly the same white Toyota HiAce, with the same green and brown luggage mounted on the roof and wrapped in netting, alongside a Russian flag.

This photo was taken during the evacuation of a part of the Russian embassy staff on the morning of May, 2nd 2023, according to the Russian authorities. 

A search for other images of the evacuation shows a photo of a military vehicle belonging to the Russian military convoy. It was shared by a pro-Russian account at the time of the evacuation

This vehicle looks very similar to another car seen in the viral video. The number plate is similar, albeit with a one-digit difference, and both vehicles have luggage and a Russian flag on the roof.

The image at the left is a still taken from the viral video. The image on the right was published on the Telegram channel of the Russian embassy in Sudan. You can see the same white Toyota HiAce van, with the same luggage on the roof and the Russian flag.
The image at the left is a still taken from the viral video. The image on the right was published on the Telegram channel of the Russian embassy in Sudan. You can see the same white Toyota HiAce van, with the same luggage on the roof and the Russian flag. © Observateurs

A press release issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the embassy staff were evacuated on May 2 in a convoy that took them to the Al-Shahid Mukhtar air base in the town of Omdurman, near Khartoum, before flying to Moscow.

Amateur videos appear to show the convoy en route.

More than 200 people, including Russian embassy staff, representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Russian citizens and citizens of other countries allied with Russia were reportedly evacuated on the same day by the Russian armed forces.

 

Wagner’s role in Sudan still unclear

The Wagner Group forged a partnership in 2018 with then-President Omar al-Bashir to illegally exploit the country’s gold resources, as an investigation by an international consortium of journalists has documented

At the same time, the Russian militia developed relations with General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, also known as Hemedti, and his paramilitary group RSF. Allies of al-Bashir before his ouster in 2019, Daglo and his RSF joined the rebellion against him and later took up arms against government forces in April 2023.

An investigation by the open-source investigative organisation All Eyes on Wagner and CNN in April 2023 suggests that Wagner supplied missiles to the RSF to support their fight against the Sudanese army. 

All Eyes on Wagner has also developed an interactive map listing the Russian militia’s activities and human rights abuses around the world.



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Sudan conflict: Two videos expose rapes allegedly carried out by Rapid Support Forces

Since the conflict in Sudan broke out in April, hundreds of rapes have been reported by civilians and NGOs, with women from ethnic minorities being particularly targeted. In mid-June, two extremely shocking videos emerged of rapes being carried out in North Khartoum. Our Observers condemn the systemic use of sexual violence in Darfur, where ethnic tensions are rife.

WARNING: This article contains accounts of sexual violence that readers may find disturbing.

On June 21, the Observers team was sent two shocking videos that had been circulating on WhatsApp and TikTok since June 15. Both were filmed in Khartoum North, a town outside the capital. They are the first visual evidence of the use of rape during the conflict raging in Sudan since April 15 between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

One of the videos was filmed by an attacker

The first video lasts 1 minute 12 seconds and is filmed by a group of men in a room. It shows two half-naked men staring down at a naked young woman. They take turns raping her as a third films the scene while holding down the victim’s head with his foot. The young woman can be heard crying and screaming. She repeats: “It’s OK, I promise not to struggle, please don’t hurt me!” The three young men, including the man filming the video, are not wearing uniforms or any signs of belonging to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) or the Sudanese army, the two parties to the conflict. 

The video was posted on TikTok from June 15 until it was removed on June 23.

Sudanese people expressed their outrage on Facebook and TikTok. They shared a screenshot of one of the attackers in the video and identified him by first and last name as well as home town. They also said that he was part of the Rapid Support Forces. We have not been able to independently verify this information.

Screenshot of the video filmed by the RSF, one of the rapists can be seen smiling at the camera towards the end of the clip. © Observers

The other video was filmed by a witness

The second video was filmed by a witness in Khartoum North, also known as Khartoum Bahri, at some point before June 16, when CNN published an investigation that included the video.

Opposite the building where the video was filmed, we can identify a fighter in uniform and wearing the “kamdul”  headgear typical of Sudanese Arab tribes and adopted by FSR fighters  moving back and forth over a second person in the courtyard of a house. 

The author of the video commented: “They say there are no rapes (…) This is a rape in broad daylight, we are in the Kafouri neighbourhood, in block 4, near another block. There are two other men standing guard outside.” The camera then shows a man in light beige camouflage  the characteristic colour of the FSR uniform  with a kamdul on his head standing at the gate outside the house.

On the left, a fighter wearing a uniform similar to that of the RSF is shown raping a young woman in the courtyard of a house, while on the right, a second fighter in uniform stands guard outside. Screenshots from a video sent to the Observers team.
On the left, a fighter wearing a uniform similar to that of the RSF is shown raping a young woman in the courtyard of a house, while on the right, a second fighter in uniform stands guard outside. Screenshots from a video sent to the Observers team. © Observers

“One of the victims was taken to hospital by a member of the RSF while she was suffering from vaginal bleeding”

Sulaima Ishaq Khalifa is a trauma psychologist and the director of the Unit for Ending Violence against Women, a public body attached to the Ministry of Social Affairs in Sudan. 

The unit examined the two videos and was able to identify the victims thanks to witnesses and neighbours who recognised the young girls. The two victims work as domestic servants in Khartoum Bahri. The victim in the second video was 15 years old. The age of the victim in the first video is not yet known.

Although they’re painful to watch, both videos contain tangible evidence of sexual violence perpetrated in Khartoum Bahri. The young girls are from shanty towns and they were employed as domestic help in private homes. When the RSF took control of certain districts in Khartoum, the girls shopped and cleaned for them. 

In one case, the victim was dropped off at hospital by a member of the RSF while suffering from vaginal bleeding, which confirms that the rape was committed by these forces. 

In addition to the victims’ testimonies, we rely on eyewitness accounts  in particular from families and neighbours  to document these crimes: where it happened, when and who is responsible. Rape is used as a weapon of war; it is a war crime.

Sulaima Ishaq told us that she was unable to determine the two victim’s current health condition, as those areas of North Khartoum are under the control of the RSF, making it more difficult for social services to gain access to them.

 

She highlights a nuance concerning rapes in war zones which may otherwise seem less easy to prove:

Although some victims have sex with RSF fighters in exchange for money or food, one can never speak of consent in a context of war, especially as most rape victims are minors, aged between 12 and 17, and therefore cannot give consent de facto.

According to the UN, at least 53 women and girls were subjected to sexual violence between April 15 and 19, when the conflict in Sudan began. However, according to several of our Sudanese Observers in the capital Khartoum and in Darfur, this figure is much lower than the reality on the ground. 

As of June 29, the Unit for Ending Violence against Women and Children recorded 88 cases of rape since the start of the conflict: 42 in the capital Khartoum, 21 in El Geneina, in the state of West Darfur, and 25 in Nyala, in the state of South Darfur. However, according to the unit, these recorded cases only represent 2% of rapes that take place across the country because of the taboo on speaking of the subject within the victims’ communities.


Cette Soudanaise relaie un appel à l’aide d’un témoin d’un viol collectif à Khartoum Bahri le 27 avril. Le témoin -anonyme- dit que sept combattants FSR ont fait irruption dans l’immeuble de sa tante, ont tenté d’agresser sa cousine arabe avant de violer trois filles éthiopiennes que cette dernière hébergeait.

“In one district of Nyala alone, I recorded 12 cases of rape”

Nahla Khazraji is an activist with Mostaqbal, a feminist organisation based in Nyala that documents cases of sexual violence against women and girls in West and South Darfur. She says that she has documented more than one hundred rapes since the start of the conflict, but that rape survivors have difficulty speaking out.

I have personally spoken to about a hundred victims on the phone, but officially, only 24 women have agreed to report the rapes to the Women and Children Protection Unit. In one district of Nyala alone, I recorded 12 cases of rape.

Most of them contact us anonymously just to get emergency treatment or screening, but they don’t want to make it public. So we collect testimonies and obtain treatment from the Protection Unit, then deliver it to the victims.

As well as being raped, they suffer from social pressure and the shame of being raped. It’s very difficult to get survivors to confide in us, so we prefer to talk to them privately so that we can provide them with a minimum of medical care.

“RSF break into their homes and rape them in front of their families”

Only a third of the hospitals in Sudan are still operational, with fighting in urban areas limiting the movement of civilians. The Mostaqbal association told us that unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases have gone untreated because the rapes were not reported in time. For emergency contraception to be effective, it must be administered no more than 3 to 5 days after sexual intercourse: 

We believe that around 90% of rape victims in Darfur are internally displaced persons. Many of them are daily workers, either in private homes or in cafés and restaurants. They are in extremely precarious living situations, which automatically makes them more exposed to sexual exploitation, forced prostitution and rape. In many cases, for example, women are forced to have sex with FSR fighters in exchange for money or food. 

Other victims have been raped in their homes. RSF soldiers have burst into their homes and raped them in front of their families. Imagine a woman’s psychological state after that! 

The reports we have received in Darfur indicate that most of the rapists are Janjaweed who are not in uniform. Sudanese army soldiers are also responsible for some of the sexual violence committed, but to a much lesser degree, according to the testimonies we have collected.

Rape in times of conflict constitutes a war crime

Our two Observers and several other Sudanese women are doing their utmost to record and document sexual violence during the ongoing conflict. A 2008 UN resolution defined several important measures to protect women, noting that rape and other forms of sexual violence could constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.

Rape is a war tactic that has historically been used in times of conflict. During the Rwandan genocide, up to 500,000 cases of rape were recorded, whole more than 60,000 cases were reported during the civil war in Sierra Leone. 

In Sudan, the use of rape as a weapon of war dates back to at least the 2003 conflict in Darfur, during which at least 250 non-Arab women were raped, according to Amnesty International.

 

The victim is raped in an effort to dehumanise and defeat the enemy”

Gwenaëlle Lenoir, a freelance journalist who specialises in East Africa, covered the pro-democracy social movements in Sudan between 2019 and 2021 in Khartoum. At the time, she witnessed sexual violence perpetrated by the Rapid Support Forces, but also by the Sudanese police against female demonstrators.

Members of the RSF have a history of perpetuating sexual violence. They often target Eritrean or Ethiopian refugee women because they don’t have a strong community behind them that will support or defend them. The RSF ranks are mainly made up of ethnic Arabs, so in their eyes, victims from ethnic groups other than their own can be dehumanised. This is the why rape is used as a weapon of war: the victim is raped in an effort to dehumanise and defeat the enemy. 

Rape is identified as a weapon of war because it is also systemic: although it is not an order validated by the hierarchy, soldiers or combatants have a “carte blanche” to commit acts of violence. In situations of war and chaos, women are more vulnerable, and if they happen to also be refugees, they are very vulnerable.

What happens after the war?

Rape used as a weapon of war is a matter treated by the International Criminal Court. Sudanese NGOs say that it is therefore necessary to be able to present all evidence possible in addition to testimonies. 

Feminist organisations including Sudanese Women Rights Action (SUWRA) have drawn up a list of elements that can support their cases: medical reports, police reports, bloody clothing and semen samples. At the same time, this organisation has called out the near-total lack of hospital and security services able to help and protect victims of rape. 



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‘Sudanese rebels entered my home and held me hostage, I thought I wouldn’t survive’

There have been many reports from Sudan that fighters with the militia group the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been taking over people’s homes, using them as bases as they continue their battles with the Sudanese armed forces. Videos have been circulating online documenting the RSF brutalising civilians in their own homes, beating them or taking them hostage. We spoke to someone who narrowly survived being taken hostage by a group of RSF fighters in his own home. 

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Videos circulating online show armed fighters with the Sudanese militia group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), posing in homes that they have seized from civilians. The militia group has been using seized civilian homes as shelters as fighting continues to rage between them and the Sudanese military. Videos documenting these home invasions have been posted online, often by the RSF themselves. This militia has also been accused of theft, rape and assault on civilians. 





Civilians have also filmed the RSF invading homes or taking cars from civilians.


This video posted on Facebook on April 30 was filmed by a man who saw an RSF fighter climbing over the wall into his yard. When the fighter sees the man and his family, he says, “Why are you still here? Isn’t it dangerous for you?” There is no mention of where this incident took place.

A Facebook hashtag launched in early June, #RSF_loots_houses (and #الدعم_السريع_يستبيح_بيوتنا in Arabic) has been used 15,000 times in English and  27,000 times in Arabic. In these posts, Sudanese people recount home invasions, looting, violent attacks, humiliation and forced evictions carried out by the RSF. 


A video showing a man said to be an RSF fighter aiming his weapon at a crying woman garnered more than 108,000 views on Twitter. The caption says that the fighters took her family hostage and then stole their cars.

‘There were nine of them, all with automatic weapons, and three younger men carrying sticks and knives’

Our team got a message on June 5 from Gamal (not his real name), a 30-year-old doctor living in Khartoum. He had just survived being held hostage for several hours in his own home by armed RSF fighters.

Around 11am on June 5, I was studying at home when there was a knock on the outside gate. To be safe, I went upstairs so I could look out the window and see who was knocking. There were nine of them, all with automatic weapons, and three younger men carrying sticks and knives. I didn’t want them to get angry at me so, in the end, I opened the door.  

Once they got through the gate, they pointed their weapons at me and told me to sit down. 

‘We were told that this home belongs to an army officer,’ they said. 

They wanted more information on the car parked outside. I told them that it was my neighbor’s car and that he had left me his keys but that there were no soldiers living in the neighborhood. They beat me with the butt of their rifles and forced me inside.


This video, filmed by an RSF fighter, shows him screaming insults at an old man, seated on the floor, and threatening him with a knife. It turns out that they are in the elderly man’s own home, which the fighter has invaded. The fighter throws something at the man’s head and then hits him.

While the younger fighters ransacked the electronics, the others fired shots through the ceiling and hit me again when I wouldn’t give them the keys to the vehicle. Eventually, I gave them the keys to our small family car instead and then they left.

A few minutes later, another group of RSF fighters arrived at my door. When I tried to close it again, one of them shoved me back with his rifle butt, hitting my chest and my neck. 

They confined me in the living room and forced me to respond to the calls I was getting from my parents and my little sister. They listened as I had to falsely reassure my family that I was ok even though I was actually being held hostage. 

When a friend called me, they forced me to answer and then threatened to kill me if he didn’t bring over a certain amount of cash, claiming that they had found weapons on me. I do have a pistol for self-protection, which, despite my reservations, I always carry with me in a small bag. After this call, they hit me again and threatened me and accused me of collaborating with the army.

‘By that point, faced with such extreme violence, I had lost all hope of survival’

I finally gave them the pistol after they continued to hit me and threaten me. But I didn’t remember where I had hid the ammunition and they didn’t believe me. So they ransacked the house and threw everything on the ground. A young man found my laptop and wanted to take it. I tried to dissuade him, explaining that I used it for my research and my classes. 

That sent him into a rage. He screamed at me, saying ‘You think I’m not capable of reading or using a computer?’ and then he started pounding my head and shoulders again, beating me.  I curled into a ball and closed my eyes as he continued to hit me, hoping that I wouldn’t faint from the pain. 


This video was filmed by a student at her home in Khartoum. She published the video on Instagram on July 14, according to this social media user who said he was in contact with her. In the video, you can hear aggressive knocking on the gate, which you can’t see in the video. The caption reads, “RSF try to enter our home.”

They knew that I was a civilian but I realized that they thought it was entertaining to hit me and humiliate me. Another fighter asked me about my background while pointing his weapon at me. I answered in a vague way. By that point, faced with such extreme violence, I had lost all hope of survival. 

Then, finally, they left me there and went out on the veranda.

In the end, they left my home four or five hours later. They had stolen the two cars, my laptop and four phones. I even offered them soda and water before they left. 

Ten days later, I still feel a bitter sense of strangeness, of dissociation. I think, with hindsight, that in an instant of life or death, I was able to stay composed and think about my actions and I survived. 

 

On Twitter, some Sudanese people have recommended showing sympathy to the RSF in order to avoid being looted or attacked. 

Gamal says he stayed in Khartoum because of the relative calm that has returned to the capital since June 18, when a 72-hour ceasefire was enacted. However, the ceasefire was broken on the second day when fighting broke out in Darfur, in the west of the country.



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What is at stake for Europe as war in Sudan rages on?

By Joseph Hammond, Journalist and analyst

Humanitarian concerns should trump geopolitics in our view of the current Sudanese civil war, Joseph Hammond writes.

Since 15 April, Sudan has been locked in a bloody civil war that threatens to tip the Horn of Africa over the brink and straight into a full-blown humanitarian disaster. 

No less an observer than the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, has said the conflict has the potential to be “worse than Ukraine”.

Her claim was quickly dismissed as a public relations move, but the recent military history of the Horn of Africa suggests how deadly conflicts in the region can be to civilians. 

To add to the tragedy, the war threatens to additionally compromise the food security of one of the world’s most distinguished regions.

Wars in the Horn of Africa disproportionately affect civilians

The 2013-2020 South Sudanese Civil War offers a clear example of how the conflict in the Horn of Africa has a disproportionate impact on civilians.

According to one study published in 2018 by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, some 383,000 people had died in the conflict since 2013. 

Of these, some 193,000 were civilian deaths due to displacement, disruption of health care, and starvation. Tragically, starvation continues to be a weapon of war for some actors in the Horn of Africa.

In the Sudan war that is raging on right now, roughly 500 civilians have been killed in the first month — a figure just slightly smaller than the monthly average in Ukraine. 

That is to say, a large civil war in the Horn of Africa has seen already civilian deaths equivalent to a massive-scale invasion of Ukraine by one of the world’s greatest arms producers.

Millions more are at severe risk

While civilian deaths peaked and levelled off early in Ukraine, we are likely to see expanded suffering among civilians in Sudan due to a number of additional factors compounding their misery. 

Before this conflict, a third of Sudan’s population faced food insecurity and other humanitarian challenges. 

Additionally, this year, the country recorded its reportedly first-ever outbreak of dengue fever in the capital of Khartoum.

Yet the biggest issue this conflict has already exacerbated relates to food security. A UN document released in March claimed as many as 129,000 face imminent starvation and death in the Horn of Africa. 

While initially it was forecast that South Sudan and Somalia will be the hardest hit by this emerging crisis, Sudan’s new conflict puts millions more at severe risk.

This year is the sixth in a row where rains have failed to fall across the Horn of Africa, causing the worst drought in forty years. 

In some areas, locals said conditions are not as bad as in 2011 – a year in which famine, claimed by some estimates, directly or indirectly claimed a quarter of a million lives. 

However, the conflict in Sudan and the disruptions to global food supplies due to the war in Ukraine may be complicating factors.

A humanitarian crisis should be avoided at all costs

Thus, it is imperative for collective action to both build peace and stem the humanitarian crisis. 

While a number of countries pooled resources to help their nationals flee Sudan, the world must now use those same capabilities to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. 

Some aid groups operating in neighbouring countries have announced in the past week that they may see food shortages soon.

The European Union has undertaken some important steps to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis, notably launching an “air bridge” to provide much-needed humanitarian aid. 

To that end, a number of countries have launched similar efforts that have engaged civil society. King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), based in Saudi Arabia, has launched a similar air bridge to provide humanitarian supplies to Sudan. 

NATO should demonstrate its prior engagement was not a one-off

Yet, NATO is still not getting involved, despite the fact that the alliance’s first-ever Africa-related operation was to provide logistical support to an African Union peacekeeping effort in Sudan in 2005 together with the EU. 

After the war in Afghanistan, it was NATO’s second-ever out-of-area operation. Even today, NATO brags about its mission when discussing its role in Africa.

However, NATO should show that its former engagement in Sudan was not a one-off affair and support ongoing logistical efforts to support humanitarian efforts to the conflict. 

Perhaps the argument this time around is even stronger than the one that sparked NATO’s involvement in 2005, given that Russia’s presence and role in the country have only expanded in recent years.

Sudan is much closer to Europe than most realise

As the Sudanese people bravely face this storm, they do so with less coin in their pockets. The country’s exports have been largely halted since. 

Tragically, Sudan’s largest export since the start of the conflict has been refugees. 

Ethiopia alone is receiving roughly 1,000 refugees per day from Sudan as the fighting rages on, while as many as 800,000 may flee as a result of the conflict — a small fraction of the refugees that the war in Ukraine has produced. 

Yet, with the region facing a severe drought, those fleeing the conflict could see thousands of “climate refugees” following in their footsteps. 

This is why humanitarian concerns should trump geopolitics in our view of the current Sudanese civil war. 

Europe should act now to strengthen the humanitarian response less the conflict in Sudan destabilises the country’s neighbours and, ultimately, the Southern Mediterranean.

War has taught European leaders that Kyiv is far closer to Brussels than many realised. The same is just as true about Khartoum.

Joseph Hammond is a journalist who has reported extensively from Africa, Eurasia and the Middle East, as well as a former Fulbright Public Policy Fellow.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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How volunteers in Sudan are burying unknown victims of the conflict

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A month after clashes began between the Sudanese army and paramilitary forces, air strikes continue to pummel Sudan’s major cities while on the ground street battles rage. Bodies of both soldiers and civilians are piling up in the streets of the capital Khartoum, many of them remaining unclaimed due to the unstable security situation. Sudanese volunteers have launched an initiative to bury civilian victims of the civil war and locate the missing, dead or alive. 

People living in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, are finding themselves with no access to basic goods or medical care as street battles between the army and paramilitary groups continue to rage. Across the country, only 28 percent of hospitals are in operation. In the capital, the number drops to just 16 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

In mid-April, when clashes began between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group, our team received a number of images showing the bodies of both civilians and soldiers piling up in the streets of the capital. In many cases, the ongoing air raids and gunfire have meant that family, friends and medical teams have been unable to gather and bury the bodies of the dead. 

>> Read more on The Observers: In Khartoum, corpses litter the streets: ‘The fighting keeps residents from burying them’

Since the second week of fighting, a group of volunteers working under the supervision of the Sudanese Red Cross and Red Crescent have been out in the streets of Khartoum, gathering the dead and burying them. 

These volunteers have posted contact numbers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook so that people living in Khartoum – as well as the adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri, which, together, make up “greater Khartoum” – can call the team if they see a body. 


Volunteers have shared this post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that reads, in Arabic, “If you see a body in any area [in Khartoum], call us. This is a purely volunteer service, with no remuneration.”

I’ve had to collect heads that had been separated from their bodies, it’s horrific’

Mohammad Moussa is a volunteer, based in Khartoum. 

There aren’t a lot of us volunteers and we only have two cars – we use one to transport the volunteers and the other we are now using as a mortuary vehicle. It is not enough to cover the entire range of greater Khartoum, so we do one area at a time. 

The Red Crescent supports our initiative, without being able to participate because when there are humanitarian teams on the ground, they also have to assure their safety [Editor’s note: which is complicated by the many infractions of the ceasefire by the two parties in the conflict].They do provide us with protective clothing and equipment so that we can pick up and conserve the bodies safely. 


In this video, published by our team on April 19, you can see bodies in the streets of the Sudanese capital.

It’s really hard because some bodies have already been outside for days – we are sometimes picking up bodies that are already in an advanced state of decomposition. Some have even been eaten by animals. I’ve had to collect heads that have been separated from their bodies, it’s horrific.

Right off the bat, we faced administrative challenges, because none of the representatives of the local administration were in Khartoum in order to give us the necessary authorization to bury so many bodies. 

The morgues of the few hospitals still in operation in Khartoum are overflowing’

We therefore had to go get an authorisation in Jabel Aulia [39 km away] south of the city. The procedures also took a lot of time, due to the fragile security situation.

As soon as we identify a body, either with personal documents or by fitting a description given by their family, the next step is to bury it. For others that we can’t identify, in theory, we are supposed to store them in a morgue. But the morgues of the few hospitals still in operation in Khartoum are overflowing. Once, we had to leave a body in a vehicle all night until the graves were dug, since there was no space in the morgue at Jebel Aulia.


This social media user is seeking information about a young man who disappeared on May 14 after being arrested at a checkpoint by the Rapid Security Forces.

To a lesser degree, we are also trying to help to identify and find missing people. We find out about these people because their friends and family have posted about them online, seeking any information about their whereabouts. 

If we find a body that fits a description or has an identifying feature, then the teams will reach out to the family in question. We really work through word of mouth because some areas are completely cut off from internet and phone lines.

Sometimes a missing person is, in reality, just holed up somewhere without access to a telephone and stuck because of the fighting. If that is the case, we’ll pass the information from city to city through our network of volunteers so that someone can give the family the news that their missing relative is still alive.

>> Read more on The Observers: Sudan: In absence of humanitarian aid, citizen initiatives attempt to help victims of violence

Tragically, this isn’t the first time that the streets of Khartoum have been covered with unknown victims of fighting. In 2022, several thousand victims of police brutality during pro-democracy protests were discovered in an advanced state of decomposition in the morgues of Khartoum and Omdurman, which were both overflowing with unidentified bodies. 

Haitham Ibrahim is the press officer at the Sudanese Red Crescent. 

We have currently deployed two teams of volunteers: one in central Khartoum, the other in Bahri [Editor’s note: Often known as “Khartoum Bahri”, this town is located to the east of the town centre]. After the Jebel Aoulia operation, we were able to bury seven bodies there. Then, we were able to bury 11 more people in Afraa, north of Khartoum. Eventually, we were able to find space for more victims in Ash Shuqaylah. We are trying to communicate and coordinate with the two sides of the conflict in order to protect our volunteers.


Here, volunteers bury someone in a private garden because of the insecurity in the streets.

We haven’t been able to advance more than that in Bahri and in the centre of Khartoum, because the fighting has intensified. 

But as soon as a ceasefire is put in place and respected, as soon as we get the greenlight to move around safely in the areas most affected, we’ll start working across a larger zone.

Since the start of the fighting in Sudan, at least 600 people, including civilians, have been killed and more than 5,100 have been seriously injured, the World Health Organization reported on May 16.



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How both sides in Sudan claim to be cracking down on gang violence and looting

Amid the ongoing fighting in Sudan since April 15, reports of street gangs looting and assaulting civilians, especially in Khartoum and two nearby towns, have emerged. These gangs, known as the “Niqez”, have a long-standing presence in the country. However, both conflicting parties in Sudan are now taking measures to arrest and publicly shame gang members to improve their image among civilians, according to our Observer.

“Niqez”, an Arabicised pronunciation of a common racial slur, is how they’ve come to be known. The gangs have been wreaking havoc in Sudan since the 2003 armed conflict in Darfur, reemerging during periods of instability, such as the 2011 and 2019 protests against former President Omar al-Bashir, the 2021 military coup d’état, and the ongoing conflict between the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) vying for power over the country.


Video filmed on May 7 in Omdurman, showing Niqez gangs, as well as some civilians, robbing a Khartoum Bank building and Central Market shops.

Images showing RSF fighters arresting and publicly humiliating members of the Niqez gang in Khartoum have been circulating on social networks since late April, particularly in official accounts from the paramilitary forces.


Video posted on Facebook on April 27 and filmed in Bahri (a city north of Khartoum). After arresting them for theft, a member of the RSF forced Niqez to crawl, firing shots at the ground right next to the men.

Police officers and supporters of the Sudanese army have also shared videos showing soldiers arresting suspected gang members.

In this video posted on Twitter on April 29 – the day the Central Reserve Police were officially deployed in Greater Khartoum – members of the Central Reserve Police, wearing beige camouflage uniforms and displaying the unit’s signature eagle emblem, are seen whipping a group of Niqez gang members.

Several eyewitnesses to the looting in and around Khartoum, however, claim that the RSF themselves are looting banks, shops and hospitals, before leaving the way for gangs and civilians. The same forces, they say, later intervene at the same site to arrest “looters” including members of street gangs. 

‘These gangs are only arrested to create a discourse of glory for the paramilitary forces arresting them.’

Our Observer Mohammad (not his real name) is from Khartoum. He has been living in Omdurman for a few weeks, after his house was taken over by RSF troops. He told us that he saw RSF members looting a Bank of Khartoum in Omdurman on May 5.

On May 5, I was walking from my home to the former revolution headquarters [Editor’s note: where pro-democracy activists operated during 2019 sit-ins, now closed] and pass through the city’s central market [on the same street as the Bank of Khartoum]. I saw the Rapid Support Forces looting and ransacking the Bank of Khartoum. There were also members of the Niqez gang around the building.


In this video filmed on May 7, fighters wearing RSF uniforms are seen carrying boxes in a military vehicle outside the Bank of Khartoum in Omdurman. “They have been there for three days,” the person filming says.

Some gang members tried to break windows and rob shops, taking advantage of the chaos, and the shopkeepers chased them into the market, but they managed to escape without consequences.


In this video from April 22, a Khartoum shopkeeper chases a member of the Niqez gang who was trying to rob his shop, while another shopkeeper aims a gun at the thief.

According to the merchants who were there, the RSF started looting on May 4 at the Bank of Khartoum, taking mostly high-denomination banknotes and foreign currency, and then left, leaving the area open to gangs and civilians who picked up what was left. 

I saw several men in RSF uniforms in at least two military vehicles parked around the bank. They were firing in the air and dispersing anyone who came near. Then, after I left, the RSF showed up at the site again to arrest gang members and film the whole “arrest operation”.


In this video from May 7, uniformed RSF fighters are seen in a military vehicle in front of the Bank of Khartoum in Omdurman, and gunfire is heard echoing before the vehicle leaves the scene.

There have been similar incidents in Khartoum and Omdurman, documented in videos shared on social media, contradicting the videos posted by RSF accounts that portray gangs as the main perpetrators of looting.


In this video from April 29, young men are seen entering the Bank of Khartoum building in Sawba (east of Khartoum). The person filming says that the RSF looted the bank in the morning and then left it open to civilian looters.

In a video filmed on April 29, a uniformed RSF member addresses several suspected thieves that are handcuffed and sitting on the ground: “You are aware that it is wrong to steal money from your Sudanese brothers […] We don’t want this war, but we were forced into it. We only want to protect civilians.” He says nothing regarding the fate of those arrested.


In response to accusations that the RSF was looting, a political adviser to the paramilitary force said that these alleged looters were actually gang members dressed up as RSF fighters in order to take advantage of the instability “to intimidate and terrify citizens”.

These groups are not really organised’

As for the “Niqez” gang, the name does not have the offensive racial connotations one immediately thinks of, but rather refers to the lifestyle of African-American gangsters. The members of this gang are generally street children from the suburbs of Khartoum, mainly of Nubian ethnicity. They are concentrated in unsafe areas of Khartoum, which many people avoid at night.

These groups are not really organised, so the Sudanese call any street gang “Niqez” in reference to their brawling attitude and their knives. They attack people randomly, sometimes they can be seen walking around with small blades in their hands during the day in the street.


This video taken on May 1 shows Sudanese army soldiers parading through the south of Khartoum in military vehicles transporting Niqez gang members arrested for theft.

‘These gangs are a kind of political terror tool’

In my experience, they mainly come around during periods of instability, such as in 2019 during mass opposition to the military regime. 

These gangs would attack activists’ offices or sit-ins, and this would create a pretext for the police and army to impose their presence in civilian areas and to arrest and assault protesters.


These surveillance videos from January 7 show three Niqez gangsters armed with guns and swords attacking and stabbing a shopkeeper outside his shop before robbing the business.

For us civilians, these gangs are a kind of political terror tool, appearing and disappearing suddenly when the city is going through a wave of protest or chaos. In other cases, the police come and arrest them publicly to show that they are there to restore order.


In a video filmed in 2021, police officers (in blue uniforms) and armed forces soldiers (in grey uniforms) arrest gangsters accused of robbery and parade them in public. They are then seen handcuffing them and tying them in the police vehicle with chains around their necks.

At the moment, it is not only gangs that take part in the looting of banks and businesses, but also civilians. 

This means that, between the images propagated by the RSF or the central police reserve, these gangs are only arrested to serve a discourse to the glory of the paramilitary forces that arrest them. Each side of the conflict wants to show itself as the only security apparatus that hunts criminals and protects civilians.

Although several banks and businesses, including jewellery shops, have been robbed since the fighting began, it is still difficult to estimate the amount of damage caused by the looting, which continues on a daily basis, according to the Sudanese Chamber of Commerce. The Sudanese Central Bank, whose branches were looted, assured in a statement that its customers’ deposits have not been affected.



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The Sudan conflict explained in 8 charts

Close to three weeks have passed since the violence erupted in Sudan between its military, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group. The fighting has dashed the country’s hopes for a peaceful transition to a civilian government. The conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands injured and millions displaced, according to figures from the United Nations.

Sudan is a country in northeast Africa, bordering the Red Sea. With a population of about 46 million, it is one of the continent’s most populous nations and largest geographically. It is also one of the poorest countries in the world.

The present conflict is a power struggle between two Sudanese generals: General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group. Here’s how it started:

Also read |Sudan conflict: Global fallout and impact on India

Conflict locations

Fighting erupted in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, on April 15 in a culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. al-Burhan and Gen. Dagalo. The airport, a military base, and the presidential palace were damaged during clashes on April 15. The Indian embassy in the city was stormed and looted. Nearby Omdurman also saw clashes. As of April 27, around 183 people had been killed in Khartoum alone. Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) showed close to 50% of all incidents of political violence between April 15 and April 24 happened in Khartoum. As of May 6, 60 of the 88 hospitals in Khartoum were out of service, according to the Sudanese Doctors Union.

In the Darfur region, Al Fasher, El Genena, El Obeid, and Nyala have seen the highest of fighting. In El Geneina, for instance, the number of fatalities grew from five in the first week to 47 in the second week. The military had retreated from Genena and the residents took up arms to defend themselves against the rampant violence. By April 28, almost all of Genena’s medical facilities, including its main hospital, had been out of service for days. The sole functioning hospital was inaccessible because of the fighting.

Also read |In Frames | Generals in a labyrinth

In El Fasher, reports came in of 30 people from Karnataka’s Hakki Pikki tribe stuck in the city amidst constant shelling and attack. Most of them have been evacuated as of May 4. Nyala city saw 51 fatalities over the two weeks. According to ACLED, most of these clashes happened along major roadways connecting Sudan’s west to its east.

The maps below show clash locations in the first and second week since April 15, when the fighting began.

Neither faction has let up their fighting. Even with ceasefires announced, fighting continued to break out. The RSF has taken control of at least four locations — the Merowe airport, in Nyala, Khartoum and Khartoum North. The SAF, on the other hand, took control of RSF headquarters and camps in Port Sudan, Kadugli and El Fasher.

Port Sudan is also the pick-up point for evacuating Indians from Sudan to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Over nearly nine days, India has evacuated around 3,862 Indians from Sudan. Besides India, countries like Saudi Arabia, United States, Britain, Egypt, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, China, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Indonesia, Canada, South Africa, Sudan’s neighbour Chad, Kenya, Ukraine, and Iran have run evacuation missions to move their citizens away from the war-torn country.

Also read:Explained | The tribal clash that killed over 200 in Darfur and its link to Sudan’s ethnic conflict

Fatalities

Due to recurring clashes in Sudan, fatalities have been reported very frequently, but the number of deaths rose exponentially in the month of April this year. From April 15-28, data from ACLED shows there were 711 fatalities reported in Sudan, out of which 671 of the deaths were attributed to the battles, 13 attributed to violence against civilians, and 27 attributed to explosions or remote violence. There were a total of 253 fatalities reported until April 14, from the beginning of this year.

There have been fatalities associated with conflicts in Sudan in every month since January 2012, data from ACLED shows. 2018, 2019, and 2020 were the only years where the average number of monthly fatalities reported were under 100. There was an average of 85 deaths reported every month in 2018; close to 47 deaths in 2019; and 77 in 2019.

In a month, Sudan has witnessed the highest number of fatalities in May 2013 (1,374 deaths), followed by April 2016 (1,080), and March 2014 (1,044). April 2023 has been the fourth highest month when it comes to the number of fatalities, where there have been 815 reported deaths.

When it comes to the deaths related to the current widespread conflict between the RSF and SAF, the most number of fatalities, as of April 27, have been reported in the state of Khartoum, which is one of the smallest but also the most populous state in the country.

As seen above, the states to the west of Khartoum are the ones that have been seeing a higher number of fatalities compared to those to the east, north, and south of Khartoum. The concentration of conflict locations, apart from the capital, is also in these states as shown in the maps above.

Also read |Geography as character: writers trace Sudan’s complex, at times contradictory, significance

Displacement

According to the UN Refugee Agency, over 1,10,000 refugees have crossed from Sudan to neighbouring countries since the start of the fighting, while about 334,000 people are estimated to have been internally displaced. The influx of refugees to neighbouring countries is expected to rise in coming days.

The most significant cross-border movements in the region have been Sudanese fleeing to Egypt, Chad, and South Sudanese refugees returning to South Sudan. Libya, Ethiopia, and Central African Republic have also reported arrival of refugees between 1000-10,000.

According to the agency, most of the refugees are sheltering under trees in villages only 5km away from Sudan. They lack clean water and food. Many of those who have arrived in the neighbouring countries have had the means to pay for transportation and, reportedly, large number of people are trying to reach the border on foot.

The refugee agency expects over 800,000 people, including Sudanese nationals and thousands of existing refugees living temporarily in the country, to flee Sudan as a result of the ongoing conflict.

According to UNHCR, the humanitarian impact of this crisis will be harsh. Sudan hosts more than 1 million refugees and 3.7 million internally displaced people. Assistance programmes that were already overstretched are now severely hampered.

Millions of Sudanese, unable to afford the inflated prices required to escape the battles, are sheltered in their homes with dwindling food, water and frequent power cuts.

Darfur, which has been witnessing internal fighting since 2003, is the most severely hit region in the country. According to the UN, about 2.6 million people are already displaced by its long conflict in Darfur. The renewed conflict have pushed the people in the region to flee the country and seek refuge in Chad.

Sudan in the international arena

The conflict inside Sudan has many external players, and many countries are ranged on one side or the other of this conflict- some for historic reasons, others due to new rivalries and interests.

Russia

Hemedti had cultivated ties with Russia. Western diplomats in Khartoum said in 2022 that Russia’s Wagner Group was involved in illicit gold mining in Sudan and was spreading disinformation. Hemedti said he advised Sudan to cut ties to Wagner after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the private military contractor.

United Arab Emirates

The most important regional ally for Hemedti before the conflict was the United Arab Emirates.

Andreas Krieg, Associate Professor at King’s College, London, told Reuters, the UAE has provided Hemedti, who grew rich through the gold trade, with a platform for channelling his finances as well as public relations support for the RSF. However, the UAE has sought to hedge its bets, retaining ties to Burhan and the army and joining the Quad, a grouping that has taken the lead on diplomacy on Sudan and includes the United States, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

Egypt

Diplomats and analysts say Egypt feels comfortable dealing with Burhan and sees him as the most likely guarantor of its interests, including in negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project upstream on the Blue Nile.

Sudan is in a volatile region, bordering the Red Sea, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa. Five of its seven neighbours — Ethiopia, Chad, Central African Republic, Libya and South Sudan — have been affected by recent political upheavals and conflict.

Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Israel

Ethiopia and Kenya have prominent role in regional diplomacy and previous mediation in Sudan. South Sudan hosted peace talks between the Sudanese state and rebel groups in recent years, and was designated as one of the countries that could host talks over the current crisis. Israel, which had been hoping to move forward in normalising ties with Sudan, has also offered to host talks.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has had close ties to Burhan and Hemedti, both of whom sent troops to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Anna Jacobs, Senior Gulf Analyst with Crisis Group, told Reuters, Riyadh has asserted itself in mediating over Sudan, as it steps up its diplomatic ambitions across the Middle East, while also looking to protect its economic ambitions in the Red Sea region.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have been leading efforts to secure an effective ceasefire. On May 6, Sudan envoys began talks to establish a ceasefire as part of a diplomatic initiative by the two countries.

The Western powers, led by the United States, supported a new transition deal to be finalised in early April. However, the deal instead helped trigger the eruption of fighting by creating a stand-off over the future structure of the military.

(Compiled by Godhashri S, Gautam Nirmal Doshi, Sandra Cyriac, Ramesh Chandran K P. With inputs from Reuters, AP, AFP, United Nations, World Bank)

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Sudan: 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. 



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Morning Digest: May 6, 2023

Army and Assam Rifles personnel during a flag march in violence-hit areas amid tribal groups’ protest over court order on Scheduled Tribe status, in Imphal, on May 5, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Central security forces flood crisis-hit Manipur

The Centre has “taken over” control of security in violence-hit Manipur on Friday by deploying 12 companies, comprising around 1,000 personnel, of the Border Security Force (BSF) and airlifting anti-riot vehicles to the northeastern State, even as stray incidents of violence and looting were reported from parts of the State. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs has denied promulgating Article 355.

Pakistan Foreign Minister a promoter, spokesperson of terror industry: Jaishankar

Calling Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari a “promoter, justifier and spokesperson” of terrorism, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Friday hit out at Islamabad for its continued support to terror groups. Speaking at the end of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Council For Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM) that he had chaired, Mr. Jaishankar said Indians felt “outrage” over a incident on Friday, referring to the firing in Rajouri in which five Indian soldiers were killed. The bilateral spat between both countries came even as the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting agreed to strengthen cooperation in a number of areas, including economic and technological spheres.

Sudan’s warring sides send envoys for talks in Saudi Arabia

Sudan’s two warring generals sent their envoys on May 5 to Saudi Arabia for talks aimed at firming up a shaky cease-fire after three weeks of fierce fighting that has killed hundreds and pushed the African country to the brink of collapse, three Sudanese officials said. According to the three — two senior military officials and one from their paramilitary rival — the talks will begin in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on Saturday.

Fresh firefight takes place at Rajouri encounter site in Jammu: Army

A fresh firefight between the security forces and hiding militants took place in the Kandi Forest area in Jammu division’s Rajouri on May 6. The Army said the security forces engaged the hiding militants in a firefight in the Kandi Forest area in Jammu’s Rajouri around 1:15 a.m. On Friday morning, the hiding militants detonated explosives and killed five soldiers immediately after contact was established with them during the combing operation.

Operation Kaveri wraps up with 3,862 Indians now home from Sudan

India on Friday wrapped up ‘Operation Kaveri’, launched to rescue its nationals stranded in crisis-hit Sudan, with the transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force making its final flight to bring 47 passengers home. India launched Operation Kaveri on April 24 to evacuate its nationals from Sudan, which has witnessed deadly fighting between the country’s army and a paramilitary group.

Border situation is ‘stable’, China’s Foreign Minister tells EAM Jaishankar

The situation along the India-China border is “generally stable” and both sides should “draw lessons from history”, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in talks on Thursday. Mr. Qin and other Chinese officials have described the border situation as being “stable” and moving to what they have called normalised management, and asked India to place the issue in an “appropriate” position in the relationship.

India at vanguard of digital revolution, its financial inclusion journey can be example for others: United Nations officials

India is at the vanguard of the digital revolution and its financial inclusion journey can be an example for other developing countries to look at, senior United Nations (UN) officials and economists have said. The discussion, organised by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, aimed at bringing to centre stage the role of financial inclusion in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

All demands of wrestlers met, let police finish its probe: Sports Minister Anurag Thakur

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on May 5 said that all demands of the wrestlers sitting on dharna in Delhi have been met and that they should let an unbiased probe be completed by Delhi Police. “It is my request to all the sportspersons who are agitating there that whatever their demands were, they were met. Court has also given its directions and they should let an unbiased probe be completed,” Mr. Thakur told reporters in New Delhi.

COVID-19 no longer a global emergency, says WHO

The World Health Organization said on May 5 that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, marking a symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies worldwide and killed at least 7 million people worldwide. “It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.”

PM Modi accepts French invite for Bastille Day celebration in Paris

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accepted the invite from French President Emmanuel Macron to be the Guest of Honour at the Bastille Day Parade in Paris on July 14, in Paris, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Friday. Mr. Modi’s presence in Paris is being described as a gesture of special significance as India and France are celebrating the 25 th anniversary of the strategic partnership, launched in 1998.

As Ukrainian attacks pick up inside Russia, the war is coming home for Putin

For months after the Ukraine war began, which Russia still calls a “special military operation”, many ordinary Russians, particularly those whose families were spared from the mobilisation, saw the conflict as something that’s happening far away from home. Not any more: with drones attacking the Kremlin, the seat of power in the Russian capital, just a few days before the Second World War Victory Day celebrations, the war is coming home for Russians.

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