Everything You Need to Know About What’s Going On in Sudan

Packing phones, laptops, a limited amount of clothing, and a small sum of money, paying two million Sudanese pounds to rent out a bus to evacuate, the life of 21-year-old Noon Abdel Bassit changed drastically as her family received phone calls saying that there were shootings, the country wasn’t safe, and nobody should move,” according to an Al Jazeera news article.

Bassit, a medical student, described the horrific situation as she and her family heard bombs, fighter jets, missiles, and gunshots as the fights in Sudan increased after the first night. On day four of the now 12-day crisis, a missile hit Bassit’s home, causing severe damage to her windows and doors. It was then that Bassit and her family decided to evacuate the country.

Bassit points out that now, prices to rent buses for evacuation have doubled, and some are unable to find any buses. Her family was picked up from the Soba neighborhood located in central Sudan before being transported to the border, where her family would then travel into Egypt. During their journey, Bassit and her family were stopped at checkpoints “by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces” and the Sudanese military. However, the atrocities in Sudan have only become dire. 

According to a Reuters report, this conflict is not sudden and has been intensifying for months by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti)’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudan military, both of which were responsible for the overthrowing of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, and the Sudan military was responsible for the arrest of then prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok.

What Caused the Unrest in Sudan?

Earlier this month, the country wanted to finalize the nation’s transition to full democratic power, a decision that required the signatures of both the Sudan military and RSF. With this decision, the RSF would then join the armed forces of Sudan, and the military would now “be placed under civilian oversight.” However, as conflict erupted, “both sides blamed the other for provoking the violence.

significant events:

April 15: Fighting Begins

On the first day of fighting, blasts and gunshots could be heard throughout Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, near the presidential palace, airport, and defense ministry. Innocent civilians ran for safety, and soldiers took to the streets. According to Al Jazeera, the RSF said, “the Rapid Support Forces were surprised Saturday with a large force from the army entering camps in Soba in Khartoum and laying siege to paramilitaries there. They further stated that the army “launched a sweeping attack with all kinds of heavy and light weapons.”

Yet a representative from Sudan’s army said that it was the RSF that had launched an attack. Brigadier-General Nabil Abdallah said, “fighters from the Rapid Support Forces attacked several army camps in Khartoum and elsewhere around Sudan. Clashes are ongoing and the army is carrying out its duty to safeguard the country.”

Later in the day, the RSF announced that they had seized control of three airports and the presidential palace; however, the Sudan military said these claims were false, and Sudan’s General Intelligence Service stated that no control was taken over the presidential palace. As casualties increased, so did the urgent pleas of medical workers to rush to hospitals for medical care. 

April 16: 56 People reported dead

Al Jazeera

Approximately 56 civilians were killed, according to doctors, and major countries such as the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia ordered the RSF and Sudan’s military “to immediately end hostilities without precondition.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement saying “I urge General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Degalo to take active measures to reduce tensions and ensure the safety of all civilians. The only way forward is to return to negotiations that support the Sudanese people’s democratic aspirations.”

April 17: death toll rises to 180

On day three of fighting, Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, tweeted, “Appalling. The ongoing clashes in Sudan have resulted in the deaths & injuries of civilians, including 3 of our @WFP colleagues killed while carrying out their work. Those responsible should be brought to justice without delay. Humanitarian workers are #NotATarget.” The workers were members of the World Food Programme, the largest humanitarian organization working to bring meals to oppressed areas annually. After the killing of three workers, the organization ceased the distribution of aid. Hospitals in Merowe are now filled with injured civilians, and urgent medical help is needed for treatment while explosions and gunshots were now heard near the Merowe International Airport.

Additionally, according to Al Jazeera, UN Special Representative Volker Perthes, “said he was “extremely disappointed that humanitarian cessation of hostilities, that both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces had committed to, was only partially honored yesterday.” Meanwhile, doctors worry about the safe transport of injured patients to understaffed hospitals as the Director of Communications Osama Othman Abubakr called upon the two forces for assistance. In a later statement, Abubakr told Al Jazeera that the total number of injured patients was around 300 people. Further in the day, two hospitals were bombed in Khartoum resulting in the halt of emergency medical services and food is now becoming scarce for civilians. Water supplies and electricity have been cut further worsening the humanitarian crisis. 

April 18: Death Toll rises to 185

An international truce was to be established on day four of fighting in Sudan in which both forces were to the ceasefire; however, “the regular army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) issued statements accusing each other of failing to respect the ceasefire. The army’s high command said it would continue operations to secure the capital and other regions,” reported Al Jazeera. While both forces announced the support of a ceasefire, a representative from Sudan’s military said that they are willing to reestablish order in the city; however, the RSF does not respect this decision. Later, a representative from the RSF said that these claims made by Sudan’s military are untrue. 

April 19: Sudan Evacuates Foreign Embassies

Plumes of smoke rise over the city of Khartoum, as conflict between the Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army continues, as filmed from Omdurman, Sudan, April 21, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a video by Reuters.

Japan has now become the first international country to begin evacuating 60 nationals and embassy employees from Sudan. Healthcare within the country continues to worsen as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent warns of a possible healthcare system collapse as they struggle to provide aid to hospitals.

On day five of Sudan’s crisis, 16 hospitals have now collapsed, thousands injured, and more than 60 killed since the announcement of the ceasefire. Germany, the second international country to evacuate citizens, was halted from trying to assist 150 people due to ongoing violence. As the celebrations of Eid ul Fitr now approach, the Arab League called upon the two forces to ceasefire so civilians can take part in the three-day celebrations.

“I urge the Sudanese parties in the name of Islam, Arab values, and humanity to announce a ceasefire during the Eid holiday in order to enable civilians to respond to urgent humanitarian cases,” said secretary general Ahmed Aboul Gheit in an Al Jazeera report

April 20: Death toll reaches 300

Large humanitarian organizations such as Islamic Relief call for aid as hospitals quickly run out of medical supplies to treat patients, and transporting injured civilians continues to become dangerous as violence increases in the streets. A celebration that is usually welcomed with festivities, glad tidings, and community is now being welcomed with grief and solemnity as people wait for a potential truce to be enforced ahead of Eid ul Fitr’s three day festivities. Al Jazeera reports that even the U.S. Department of State has urged the two forces to hold a ceasefire until the end of Eid.

April 21: Death toll reaches 400

South Korea is the next international country to send aid to safely evacuate 25 citizens from Sudan. Hospitals continue to quickly run out of supplies, and safe passageways are needed for the quick transport of injured patients. 55 hospitals are now out of service. More U.S. troops are now being deployed in Djibouti to prepare for possible evacuations of American citizens. According to the World Health Organization, the death toll has now risen to approximately 400 people, and more than 3,000 have been injured. Meanwhile in Merowe, a calmer atmosphere is felt as citizens offer Eid prayers, and the city seems to be “coming back to life,” reports Al Jazeera.

In addition to the shutdown of hospitals, gas stations are also going out of service, and gas is being sold on the black market at shockingly high prices. Military aircraft are now preparing to safely evacuate approximately 60 citizens of Spain from Sudan, and Germany is also beings preparations. Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States quickly prepare for an immediate evacuation of citizens when possible. 

April 23: Internet is near total shutdown

On day nine of Sudan’s crisis NetBlocks, a watchdog organization, stated that Sudan’s internet usage levels were around approximately two percent due to multiple Internet providers experiencing outages; however, WiFi in mobile phones seems to be working. The U.S. has now evacuated its embassies with President Joe Biden stating in a statement, “This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians.”

France is now the next European country to begin evacuating citizens. Students are now arriving at campuses to access food and water as both supplies are becoming increasingly limited. Netherlands and Belgium join the list of countries beginning to evacuate their citizens. In St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis stated, “Unfortunately, the situation remains grave in Sudan. That is why I am renewing my call for the violence to stop as quickly as possible and for dialogue to resume.” Russian citizens have been evacuated to the country’s embassy building, Turkey begins to evacuate citizens, and the United Kingdom has evacuated all people from Sudan.

April 24: China begins to evacuate over 1300 citizens

Illustration by Nadya Yeh for The China Project

The U.S. continues to analyze possible options for evacuation as the country deploys naval ships in the Red Sea to assist any American citizens that are trying to leave. According to the United Nations, the death toll has now risen to 420 people since fighting began more than a week ago on April 15. South Korea becomes the next international country to evacuate 28 citizens, and India evacuates approximately 500 citizens by ships and aircraft. South African citizens in Sudan are being safely evacuated to a neighboring country. Nigeria is the next country to begin the process of evacuating approximately 3,000 citizens from Sudan by bus.

The already unstable region of Sudan is suffering greatly due to the ongoing fighting. Our prayers are with those affected and we hope that justice soon prevails.