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Conflict in Sudan: History Repeating Itself

Written by Maximus Hansen

Edited by Annika Lilja

Image under Public Domain

While almost all Western media has focused on the war in Ukraine and the crisis in Gaza, little attention has been given to the war in Sudan. In April of 2023, clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group broke out over a disagreement in the RSF's integration into the Sudanese Military. This triggered the displacement of up to 9 million Sudanese people. Sudan has a recent history of human displacement and violence. In 2003, the Darfur Crisis, which saw organized paramilitary groups attacking government forces in response to corruption regarding the political scene in the province, resulted in over 300,000 casualties and millions displaced. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir was removed from power by a coup after 23 years of control, and for the first time in the last 2 decades, it looked as if Sudan would finally be able to return to democracy. However, a coup was staged two years later, and the Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, resigned under pressure from the people of Khartoum. This left a power void in the country, and different factions rushed to obtain control of the now-empty government seat. Last April, the RSF conducted airstrikes against the government in the capital Khartoum. Simultaneously, they launched attacks into the Darfur region. The Battle of Khartoum brought about many civilian deaths, as both sides used their artillery carelessly. 

Over time, smaller paramilitary groups started joining the war as both sides made promises for favorable power once victory had been achieved. At the start of the war, both sides dashed to get control of the strategic Khartoum-Port Sudan route, which connects the capital to the Red Sea and is a vital artery for trade. Eventually, the RSF was able to break the seal in Khartoum and the de facto leader of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, was forced to hand over his position to Malik Agar. Due to the many violations of human rights caused by the war, the SAF and RSF agreed to negotiate. The talks were held in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Both sides accused each other of targeting certain groups of people, sites of worship, hospitals, and other non-military targets. Although some ceasefires were signed as a result of the negotiations, fighting ultimately continued and the tide of war started to improve for the RSF.

In the middle of all the fighting, the people of Sudan have been affected the most. Within the borders of Sudan itself, over 6 million people have been displaced from their homes. Approximately 1.4 million Sudanese people of many groups have fled to the neighboring countries of Chad, Ethiopia, Egypt, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Although not at war, most of these countries are not able to financially support these refugees. This has left them in makeshift camps with little food, water, electricity, and other essentials. Currently, this is the biggest humanitarian displacement crisis in the world, but it has gained little attention in the Western World. While humanitarian aid groups such as the World Food Programme, International Organization for Migration, and Médecins Sans Frontières have tried to bring aid into the country, their efforts have been hindered as aid workers have been caught in the crossfire of the country. Currently, the war is raging with new fronts opening around Sudan every few months. 



“Acting Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Marie-Helene Verney, Condemns Killing of a Humanitarian Worker.” OCHA, 10 Nov. 2023.

Ali, Ali Mahmoud, and Nohad Eltayeb. “Sudan Situation Update: April 2024 | One Year of War in Sudan.” ACLED, 14 Apr. 2024. 

“Explainer: How Darfur Became a ‘Humanitarian Calamity And.” Africa Renewal, 26 Feb. 2024.

Crisis in Sudan: What is happening and how to help. The IRC. (n.d.). 


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