Sudan Crisis: Fast Facts

Violence in Sudan has killed hundreds of people and upended the lives of millions of others in the country. Learn more about the conflict and how you can support emergency relief efforts.


1. The conflict is a clash between two military forces.

The violence is focused on a power struggle between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF, also known as Janjaweed). Tensions have been high in the country since the 2019 nonviolent revolution that overthrew the former President, Omar al-Bashir. The democratic power-sharing deal was disrupted by a coup in 2021, and unrest has swelled in the country where one-third of the 45 million citizens are in need of food aid.

Since the uprising, civilians have made explicit calls for the changes they hope to see in their country. These include fair elections, the surrender of lucrative military holdings crucial for a military that has outsourced regional action to militia, and the unification of Sudan’s military forces, including integrating RSF soldiers into the official military. There is also pressure to pursue justice for alleged war crimes by the military and its allies in the 2003 Darfur conflict, and a call for justice for the killings of pro-democracy protesters in 2019 as well as for at least 125 people killed by security forces in protests since the 2021 coup.

The army had promised to support a transition to a civilian-led government last Tuesday, on the fourth anniversary of the revolution. Instead, the transition was postponed, and the conflict escalated.
Source: The Guardian + The New York Times

Help provide relief for people affected by the Sudan conflict by donating to GlobalGiving’s Sudan Emergency Fund.


2. A barrage of targeted attacks has trapped Sudanese in their homes.

Since the fighting started in the capital, Khartoum, and other sites on April 15, the Sudanese health ministry estimates at least 550 people have been killed. More than 4,900 people have been injured. The targeted attacks have left critical infrastructure including airports, hospitals, and supply of water and electricity damaged. The fighting has trapped many people in the city of 10 million without access to medicine or food. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to seven states in Sudan are struggling with a lack of supplies. Heavy gunfire, air strikes, and shelling have been reported in North, Central, and South Darfur states and North Kordofan, where more than four humanitarian workers have been killed since the start of the violence. In North Darfur, widespread displacement has been reported in several locations, especially in camps where internally displaced communities are living. Humanitarian support is difficult to provide amid airstrikes and artillery attacks.

On April 16, the warring military groups announced a three-hour ceasefire to allow residents to flee, but several phone reports say the gunfire and explosions did not stop. Five days into the violence, a second planned ceasefire was met with more artillery fire. Both groups said they would observe a two-day cease-fire brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia starting on April 25 into the evening of April 26. Reports say the truce is at best being partially observed. Evacuation planning has been difficult for Sudanese, humanitarian, and diplomatic communities.

Representatives from both sides were due to meet for “pre-negotiation talks” sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia on May 6 in Jeddah. Both sides agreed to discuss a humanitarian truce, but not an end to the conflict. There has been no confirmation that a meeting has taken place or who the representatives are.

Source: BBC + Al Jazeera + CNN + The New York Times + CBS + Reuters + ABC News + NBC News

3. The Sudan conflict is intensifying the humanitarian crisis.

Following the military coup, humanitarian need rose to an all-time high. The risk of conflict, climate disasters, disease outbreak, and worsening economic conditions were the primary concerns going into 2023. More than 15 million people in Sudan are estimated to be in need of assistance due to conflict and climate disasters. This includes close to 4 million internally displaced persons in Sudan. Nearly 450,000 Sudanese have been displaced by the conflict, and more than 115,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

Up to 53 percent of the population is acutely food insecure due to dry spells, reduced grain production, conflict, and a multi-year economic crisis. Many rely on food aid, which makes the fighting even more dangerous, with organizations halting their relief due to the violence. After three of its workers were killed, the UN Food Programme halted its Sudan operation, which was one of its largest. A high prevalence of disease and inadequate medical care add to the challenge of malnutrition. About 1.9 million cases of malaria and 4,800 suspected cases of dengue fever were reported in 2022.

A U.N. official warned of an “extremely dangerous” development on April 25 when one of the factions seized control of a national health lab that contains samples of measles, cholera and polio. The group forced the evacuation of all technicians, creating a biological risk with the occupation.
Source: UNOCHA + Reuters + Forbes + USA Today + BBC

Help provide relief for people affected by the Sudan conflict by donating to GlobalGiving’s Sudan Emergency Fund.

4. The roots of the conflict date back to the 2003 Darfur rebellion.

The underlying causes of the Sudan conflict started years before the uprising that ousted al-Bashir. The RSF was established more than 20 years ago by the Sudanese military to suppress protests in Darfur against the unequal treatment of and violence toward non-Arab peoples in the region. At the time, the group was referred to as the Janjaweed and is associated with widespread atrocities. The International Criminal Court is still pursuing al-Bashir and other Sudanese suspects over allegations of war crimes. The Janjaweed was transformed into the paramilitary RSF in 2013 and led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also called Hemedti, who cooperated with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the regular military forces to oust al-Bashir in 2019.

Since the coup in 2021 that put the army back in charge, weekly protests, renewed isolation, and deepening economic woes fueled a public call for a new transition to civilian-led democracy. Hemedti endorsed the transition. According to analysts, this was part of Hemedti’s strategy to transition into politics, stressing the need to sideline al-Bashir loyalists and veterans who had risen to power after the coup and have connections to the army. As the two militaries came to a head in 2022, diplomats in Khartoum warned of violence. In the meantime, violence has continued in Darfur. The region was still riddled with weapons from the 2003 conflict and plagued with deadly clashes between rival tribes over pastures and water, which killed many people and displaced many more.
Source: The Guardian + Reuters + UNOCHA + Al Jazeera

5. A civil war in Sudan could have dire impacts on the region.

Sudan shares borders with seven countries. Five of these countries are experiencing armed conflicts—Libya, the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Chad. Tens of thousands of people have died in these conflicts, and millions more have been displaced. Meanwhile, the climate crisis compounds humanitarian needs with relatively dry rainy seasons. And for almost a decade, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have been in a stalemate over constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Africa’s largest hydroelectric project. A full-scale conflict could derail the negotiations and threaten water supplies for millions of people.

Experts fear that a full-blown civil war in Sudan would create a shockwave of negative effects in the region, from a new refugee crisis to international involvement. Sudan is also host to more than a million refugees from other conflicts in the region, namely South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Al Jazeera + The New York Times

6. GlobalGiving partners are already on the ground helping people affected by the conflict access food, shelter, and other emergency services.

GlobalGiving’s Disaster Response Team is working with responding partners to meet the immediate needs of people impacted by the Sudan conflict. Partners, including Almasheesh for Peace and Development, are working in difficult circumstances fraught with risk and great need.

“Everything has been destroyed,” the organization said, “windows, doors, and other equipment has [been] looted.”

Darfur Women Network, another responding partner, is watching the conflict devastate the lives of millions of innocent people, including their own volunteers and relatives.

“The situations in Darfur and other remote areas have yet to be fully accounted for, as they have been isolated and cut off from life-saving humanitarian assistance. For the millions already displaced by genocide and suffering for over 20 years, now the suffering has doubled beyond imagination.”

These organizations will continue providing immediate relief for their communities. Once urgent needs are met, the GlobalGiving Sudan Emergency Fund will transition to support community-led, long-term recovery efforts as needed.
Source: GlobalGiving Sudan Emergency Fund

7. Cash is the best way to help people in need during a crisis like the one in Sudan.

Why? Survivors’ needs vary greatly throughout the life cycle of recovery. Some will require financial support, medical care, and psychological assistance years later. You can learn more about the importance of cash donations in this infographic.
Source: GlobalGiving + USAID Center for International Disaster Information

Help the people affected most by the Sudan conflict through GlobalGiving and fuel community-led recovery.


Featured Photo: Help Mothers and Girls Earn a Brighter Future by Kids for Kids

Note: This article was originally published at 6:32 p.m. on April 21, 2023 and last updated at 3:25 p.m. on May 13, 2023.

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