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 need 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 the 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.

Weekly protests, renewed isolation, and deepening economic woes fueled a public call for a new transition to civilian-led democracy. The army had promised to support a transition to a civilian-led government mid-April, on the fourth anniversary of the revolution. Instead, the transition was postponed, and the armed parties escalated their grievances into conflict.
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 United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed throughout Sudan. 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. At the same time, conflict has escalated 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.

Seven months into the conflict, there are limited prospects for peace. Speculated army fatigue has prompted its return to US and Saudi-led ceasefire talks that were suspended in June and resumed last month. The talks adjourned in early November with no ceasefire.
Source: BBC + Al Jazeera + CNN + The New York Times + CBS + Reuters

3. The Sudan conflict is intensifying the humanitarian crisis.

Following the military coup, humanitarian needs rose to an all-time high. The risk of conflict, climate disasters, disease outbreaks, and worsening economic conditions were the primary concerns going into 2023. Now, more than 24.7 million people in Sudan are estimated to require assistance. More than six million Sudanese have been displaced by the conflict, and more than 1.2 million have fled to neighboring countries.

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. There are reports of human trafficking and sexual violence, including in areas hosting refugees.

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. Organizations have halted their relief due to the violence. After three of its workers were killed in April, the UN Food Programme stopped 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.
Source: UNOCHA + Reuters + Forbes + BBC + USA Today + PBS

4. There is evidence of crimes against humanity and threats of genocide.

Some experts are calling the conflict in Sudan a “war against women” based on reports of sexual and gender-based violence, forced disappearances, kidnapping, and other war crimes. Testimony from partners such as Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) and from refugee camps across the border from the provincial capital of El Geneina in West Darfur describes abductions, human trafficking, and the rape of dozens of women and girls.

There is a risk of genocide as the conflict worsens. RSF gains for the paramilitaries across the western and southern parts of the country have broken months of stalemate and emboldened RSF, giving it a stronger hand at talks. Since late October, RSF took over army bases in three of five Darfur state capitals, giving them access to more sophisticated weaponry like drones and long-range artillery. Rights monitors report at least 1,300 people have been killed in El Geneina, West Darfur, this month. After seizing the military headquarters in Ardamata, located near El Geneina, the RSF and their Arab militias commenced ethnically targeted violence in the town, killing non-Arabs and setting shelters on fire. In July, the U.N. Human Rights Office reported a mass grave found outside the capital with at least 87 bodies.
Source: Reuters + PBS + CNN + Human Rights Watch

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

5. 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.

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

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

Sudan shares borders with seven countries. Five of these countries are experiencing conflicts—Libya, the Central African Republic, 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. Conflict over this resource would threaten water supplies for millions of people.

Sudan is also host to more than a million refugees from other conflicts in the region, namely South Sudan and Ethiopia. Many have been forced to return due to insecurity in Sudan. The crisis also adds pressure to neighboring Egypt, where people from both Sudan and Gaza are now seeking refuge.
Source: Al Jazeera + The New York Times

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

GlobalGiving is working with responding partners to meet the immediate needs of people impacted by the Sudan conflict. Sudan has historically had a strong civil society sector that remains active in responding, setting up emergency mechanisms, mapping responses, and supporting one another.

GlobalGiving partner Darfur Women Network, is witnessing 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

8. 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: Responding to the Sudan Regional Crisis by Relief International

Note: This article was originally published at 6:32 p.m. on April 21, 2023 and last updated at 11:42 a.m. on November 21, 2023.

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