“My country, Sudan, is at imminent risk of collapse.”

It is 1 year since a brutal war erupted in Sudan (read here), pushing the country to the verge of famine and creating the world’s biggest displacement crisis. Many of Islamic Relief’s own staff have been deeply affected by the violence.

Elsadig Elnour, Islamic Relief’s Country Director in Sudan, reflects on the events of the past year as the war has spread across the country:

Since 15 April 2023 I’ve seen my country descend into violence, madness and destruction, neglected by the rest of the world. No one expected this to happen.

I was living in Khartoum when the war erupted. Now I’m in Port Sudan, on the Red Sea coast, in one of the few parts of the country still free from the violence. After this there is nowhere else to go other than into the sea. Unless there’s a change very soon, the country may collapse.

Everyone has lost everything. Everyone is traumatised. That’s how it feels to be Sudanese at this moment. We have lost loved ones, property, jobs, and the futures that we planned. Even the rich have become poor.

I spent the first 4 weeks of the war in Khartoum, barricaded under a bed with my family as shelling, airstrikes and street combat raged around us. My 2-month-old granddaughter came from the United States to visit us just before the fighting started. I had to watch her and her mother huddle with the rest of the family under the bed. It was very painful for me to see that.

Bodies lined the roads. Going outside at any time was risky because these armed groups can simply decide to shoot you. Armed men went into houses, killing people, taking their belongings, raping women and carrying them away. We knew this could happen to us too. I was terrified for the girls in our household and the thought of my 2 sons, aged 26 and 27, being taken away and forced to fight.

We decided we had to leave Khartoum for the city of Gedaref in the southeast. The road was extremely dangerous. Armed men stopped us at a checkpoint and began harassing me in front of my family. I knew they wanted our car and needed me to become angry so they had an excuse to take it. They could have killed us all. I told my 2 sons not to react to the insults. After some time, we were allowed to leave, but that incident – after all the stress of the weeks before – has left scars on all of us. My sons have refused to discuss it since then.

As the conflict moves, so do we

Over the past year the conflict has spread to almost every corner of the country.

In December I was in Sudan’s second largest city, Wad Madani, when it was attacked. Hundreds of thousands more people were displaced. I managed to escape, but those attacks have changed the dynamics of the conflict. As the fighting has spread it has reached into many of the country’s main breadbasket regions, further disrupting food production. Farmers can’t reach their fields to plant and harvest their crops as it’s too dangerous.

As the fighting has moved further east, we had to move Islamic Relief’s main office, first from Khartoum to Gedaref and then from Gedaref to Port Sudan.

I have thought many times about leaving Sudan. But I love my country and I want to help my people through this terrible war. I am so proud of my team, who continue to serve our country despite everything we have lost ourselves. My own home in Khartoum is occupied by an armed group right now. The homes of 2 of my colleagues were hit by airstrikes. We are displaced people, serving other displaced people. Aid agencies like Islamic Relief are doing vital work and thanks to support from all over the world we have provided aid to more than 600,000 people across the country. But ultimately, we need peace.

Please don’t forget us. Please don’t forget Sudan.