Sudan cease-fire changes little for civilians caught in crossfire
Sudanese woman appeals to world to provide safe passage for those who want to leave
On the morning of April 15, Tagreed Abdin, an architect living in Sudan, was thinking of leaving for work despite it being a Saturday.
Her teen boys, who go to school on Saturdays, were off that particular day. Abdin knew that working from home with the boys around would be challenging. She opted to leave.
The busy day was to be followed by an evening where they would all relax and watch television.
But her plans and the peaceful morning were shattered by the sound of heavy gunfire. Uncertainty loomed as news started to pour in about violent clashes in Khartoum.
Electricity was soon disconnected and in scorching temperatures above 40 C (104 F), the family stayed without power for the next four days.
“We had no idea what was going on. We didn’t see it going on for two weeks. But it wasn’t really clear then the scale of what was going on,” she told Anadolu via telephone from Khartoum.
Almost two weeks into the power struggle between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, thousands are living with no or little access to food, water, or amenities. Hundreds have been killed; thousands injured, according to officials as the conflict rages on.
Abdin, who lives in the west of Khartoum, insisted that there has been no truce between the rival groups.
Her day starts with the sound of gunfire. The night ends the same.
“There has been gunfire and shelling on and off over the past week or past few days when the cease-fire was declared over the Eid break,” she said, referring to the holiday that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
At home, since the conflict erupted, she ventured outside Thursday to buy hypertension medicine for her elderly mother, only to find pharmacies closed or out of stock.
The family is facing a shortage of fresh vegetables, milk, and other products. They also have to make sure that electricity is consumed less as it is pre-paid and once, they run out, it will difficult to purchase.
The situation is much worse for others. Her father, who is in the north of the capital, is surviving on lentil soup.
The overall situation for residents in Sudan is dire, she said.
“People are literally dying. They are dying of health care, of hunger, lack of water, electricity,” said Abdin.
Stations are without fuel and if people want to escape to the border or the port, their vehicles are empty. She noted how her friend’s father died as there was no ambulance to take him to the hospital due to lack of fuel.
At the moment, Abdin is staying put until there is a direct threat or when she is confident that an escape would be safe.
World leaders if they cannot stop the conflict should provide safe passages for residents to reach the border or ports, she said.
“Bring in supplies. Negotiate an agreement where the airports and ports are working,” said Abdin.
Her requests include lobbying other countries to waive visa restrictions to allow Sudanese to travel and a guarantee of safe corridors that would allow them to leave home and safely reach the ports.
“That’s what we need from the world right now,” she said.
For now, Abdin finds it hard to pass the day. Days earlier, a missile hit an apartment building in her neighborhood, killing one person.
“It’s very hard just to get through the day and to pretend that life is normal. Because you are constantly hearing the sound of shelling,” she said, as she is worried about rationing water and electricity.