Sudan activist committees assist civilians as continued clashes leave country in chaos

Sudan activist committees assist civilians as continued clashes leave country in chaos
4 min read
26 April, 2023
Sudan's resistance and neighbourhood committees have stepped into the security void as the army and the Rapid Support Forces' violent power struggle engulfs the country.
Clashes erupted in Khartoum on April 15, 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty]

Following the outbreak of a violent conflict between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more, Sudan's activist resistance and neighbourhood committees have stepped in to protect civilians and lessen their suffering.

The committees have moved swiftly to provide as much protection as possible to civilians amidst the chaos of the conflict.

Clashes erupted between the army and RSF forces on 15 April in the Sudanese capital Khartoum - quickly spreading to nearby Khartoum Bahri and Omdurman and engulfing most of Khartoum state.

Live Story

The resistance and neighbourhood committees swung into action as soon as the clashes broke out, giving civilians information about how to protect themselves.

For example, they told them when to stay inside their homes and in which cases to leave, and when to move around in groups.

They also advised on areas to keep away from, such as military zones and positions where the armed forces have deployed.

As the fighting intensified and spread, and as water and electricity have been cut off, the committees took on additional tasks, like obtaining medicines for the sick and elderly.

They have also rescued injured civilians and provided food items.

Zuhair al-Dalee, a member of an activist committee in a district east of Khartoum told The New Arab's sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the committees faced many difficulties in carrying out these new tasks.

He said there was a lack of capacity, many dangers, and a lack of essential resources and supplies.

The lack of a functioning government and the failure to open safe corridors for the committees to offer their assistance created further challenges, he said.

In Khartoum's Southern Belt, which covers dozens of neighbourhoods, locals have formed an emergency medical committee to help residents.

Helping the sick and elderly in a time of war

The committee has set up a field clinic in a school, and issued a call to medical staff living in the area to perform small surgeries.

They have also set up a psychological clinic, and are providing basic medicines like painkillers.

Volunteers there are providing advice to the local population on basic first aid for injuries and on how families should deal with children during the violence.

Live Story

Ammar Hussein, an activist involved in the initiative, said the clinic is assisting between 60 to 70 sick and injured people every day, with a medical workforce of seven to eight volunteers.

Hussein said they buy medicines using donations from local people, adding that the clinics also make visits to peoples’ homes to offer medical support to the elderly and those who are unable to reach the facility.

Hussein says the biggest challenge is obtaining medicines from the pharmacies due to the security situation.

He mentioned the difficulties being faced by diabetes sufferers who are struggling to obtain insulin, and pointed out the difficulties faced travelling around due to the scarcity of fuel.

Preventing theft and looting

In the neighbourhood of Soba, locals have formed teams to keep the area safe from the theft and looting which have hit other areas.

Soba resident Khalid Alrefaei says that nightly patrols have succeeded in this, adding that they worked diligently day and night to preserve the security of the area, coordinating on social media.

Outside Khartoum, a popular initiative to shelter families and individuals fleeing the war in Khartoum has crystallised, with all the villages announcing a state of alert, local activist Taher Abdullah said. Many villages outside the capital are now hosting those displaced from Khartoum and are providing them with shelter, food and drink.

Abdullah says they are ready to welcome more of those fleeing despite the lack of special camps for the displaced, emphasising the high value Sudanese society places on solidarity and compassion.  

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. To read the original article click here.