Four refugees tell their story of fleeing violence in Sudan

Four refugees tell their story of fleeing violence in Sudan

Tens of thousands of people have streamed across Sudan’s international borders over the past two weeks, seeking to escape fighting between the military and a powerful paramilitary — the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF. Many others have fled their homes and sought refuge within the country.

Some of those fleeing report a crisis at the borders. The queues to enter Egypt are three days long and Ethiopia has imposed strict requirements. But refugees have been free to enter Chad and South Sudan — fragile counties that will need help hosting the displaced. Those who can move are the lucky ones: Fuel prices have skyrocketed and few can afford a bus ticket. Many have set out on foot, leaving their homes behind.

Four people shared with The Washington Post the stories of their flight from violence in Sudan. Their accounts have been edited lightly for length and clarity.

What’s behind the fighting in Sudan, and what is at stake?

Dalia El Roubi: The road to Egypt

El Roubi is the former head of media for Sudan’s civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, who resigned in January 2022 after mass protests over a deal to share power with the army following a military coup in October 2021. She lives in Khartoum. She spoke with correspondent Katharine Houreld on Tuesday.

We spent the first six days hiding under a table before a rocket exploded in our living room. We were the last 10 people in the whole neighborhood. We couldn’t find anyone to take us out. We were told to walk through the gunfire. I couldn’t do that.

In the end, I got a number for the water guy who brought supplies to RSF. Me, two Sudanese women, an American and a Canadian all got out with the water guy. I told him they are all Sudanese. He sent over a huge RSF guy, knocking on doors trying to find us. I was terrified — I thought he would attack us, and I started to run. There are so many terrifying accounts of the violence of RSF.

By some miracle, my experience was different. They said, “We are here to get you out.”

We got in a truck and drove. A grenade exploded near us. I was choking with fear. We were stuck in a petrol station where they were refueling, and we were three minutes from the army. We had put money in our underwear, in our wallets, we assumed they would steal from us. Several of the soldiers at a roadblocks were just children. They should be in school. They are younger than my own children: 14, 15, 17.

Once we found a bus, it broke down seven times on the way north. Tickets were $50 on the first day, and now it’s $500. We arrived at midnight at the [Egyptian] border. In the morning, there were 70 buses behind us.

One woman seemed to be dying — she needed CPR. Another needed an IV. They have nothing there, not even Panadol. We should be doing better than this.

I packed all my life into two backpacks.

I’m so heartbroken. I know people have died all over the world and I was fighting for it not to happen here. But it has. I just feel we have failed our revolution.

Americans and other foreigners struggle to flee Sudan amid fierce fighting

Abdul Aziz Adam: The road to Chad

Adam, 40, a farmer from Sudan’s Darfur region, spoke with reporter Hafiz Haroun on Wednesday.

The RSF started the attack on Foro Baranga, in Darfur, by burning three neighborhoods and looting all the property, so we fled to another neighborhood. But looting and indiscriminate killing spread throughout the area on April 15.

We decided that night to go to Chad, but a group of Rapid Support Forces intercepted us and we were searched and everything we had was taken — some people even had phones that were taken. The attack was carried out by four-wheel-drive cars and motorcycles. Motorcycles belonging to the Rapid Support Forces were everywhere.

When we arrived in Chad, the villagers distributed 2 kilograms [4.4 pounds] of corn per family. Now the food is almost finished. Families are pouring into Chad every day and there is still no aid.

We are in danger of dying. I have 12 children who are now homeless, sitting under the hot sun. They are between ages 2 and 12. The number of refugees has begun to increase, and we may face the danger of diseases in the coming days.

I am a farmer who lost all my crops. We have been under threat of death since 2003 and no one cares about us. We were displaced inside Sudan 20 years ago, and now we are leaving Sudan.

I am leaving everything I owned because of the same groups.

Conditions worsening in Sudan as rivals show little interest in cease-fires

Dallia Abdelmoniem: The road to Port Sudan, on the Red Sea

Dallia Abdelmoniem, a resident of Khartoum, chronicles her family’s escape from intensifying fighting in Sudan’s capital to the coastal town of Port Sudan. (Video: Joe Snell/The Washington Post)

Abdelmoniem, a former journalist based in Khartoum, spoke with video editor Joseph Snell on Monday.

I live in an area in Khartoum very close to the airport, and [our house] was hit by a missile. There’s a huge hole in our roof. The missile didn’t explode. So we had to leave because we weren’t safe. We couldn’t leave that same day, Wednesday, because the fighting was really intense — we had RSF soldiers on our street.

So we had to spend the night with a rocket in our house.

But the next day, we had these two family friends and they took a risk. They came and picked us up. It took them an hour and a half to get to us, when usually it takes no more than 15 minutes, because they were driving at such a slow pace and going through the back roads and alleyways.

They were telling us that when they were driving to our house, they found bodies lying on the street. Apparently there was a horrible stench of decomposing bodies.

We left Thursday and then the fighting didn’t let up. Then we heard that evacuations were planned for foreign nationals. And all of us, all Sudanese knew, the minute foreign nationals would be evacuated, fighting would continue and it would be even worse than it was before. So that was our little gateway to be able to get out of Khartoum.

Our options were either to go to the Egyptian border, or to Port Sudan. And my mother is from Port Sudan and my sister’s late husband was also from there, so we figured we had family and support — so we had more options as to where we can go. That’s the [United Arab Emirates], Saudi [Arabia], even Egypt or, if possible, Europe.

It took two days to find a bus that would take all of us — we were around 26 family members. Social media really came in handy. Anyone who managed to get out would post either the number of the company they used or the number of the driver they used.

We had to make sure that we went through a very safe route. It took us 24 hours to get to Port Sudan. These aren’t highways, and it’s quite mountainous, the eastern part of Sudan.

The way I described it to my brother: It’s like you hit turbulence from the minute the plane takes off until the plane lands. The roads are really narrow. It’s a miracle that we got through it. And it’s a miracle that these drivers do it as a living.

As of Thursday, Abdelmoniem was still in Port Sudan, waiting to leave the country.

In photos: The story behind the Sudan crisis

Adam Hassan Yahya Omer: The road to South Sudan

Adem Hassan Yahya Omer, a science teacher from Khartoum, drives his motorbike through the streets of Sudan’s capital as residents look to escape the city. (Video: Adem Hassan Yahya Omer)

Omer is a pro-democracy activist and teacher based in Khartoum.

I set up a school in my neighborhood because I want kids to learn about science and how to read and write. But then my neighborhood was hard-hit with explosions and fighting so the school closed down.

A big shell killed my neighbor and two of her children. There was death everywhere.

We wanted to leave so we had to try to get a place on a truck, because many of my relatives are elderly and cannot walk far. One passenger cost 30,000 Sudanese pounds [about $50] and I had nine people — six of my brothers, my mother, my grandfather and my mother’s mother.

When I went to look for my brother, the RSF had occupied his house, so he was missing. It took a day to find him.

The first time we tried to leave, one of my friends was shot and killed, so they had to stop to bury him. The next day, on Friday, we left. I decided to find a safe place for my mother and grandmother and other female relatives in a peaceful village outside Khartoum. Me and my brother are of military age, so we feared being targeted by either side.

We decided to go to South Sudan.

When we left the house, we got into a car with some friends and headed to the mountain road that leads to Kosti [a city to the south].

The RSF chased us. We all got out of the car. There were children with us. They wanted money and phones. Then they accused my brother of being in the army. We gave them our passports and I told them my little brother is not affiliated with the army, he is just exercising a lot.

We had 20,000 Sudanese pounds [around $33], and they took our money and all the money from the others as well, then they left us. There were dead bodies on the road, citizens who resisted and were shot dead.

We went back to our car, but two hours later we ran into them again. Since we had already been robbed, they did not find anything, so they let us go.

There were so many dead bodies on the way.

Finally we arrived at the border town of Renk, in South Sudan.

Source Link

Share This Article

Leave a Comment