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After a Year of War, Our Hearts Break for Sudan

By USCRI April 19, 2024

By Omer Omer and Eskinder Negash

Wars in Ukraine and Gaza have rightfully drawn the attention of the world to the plight of the innocent.

But a different conflict has spiraled into one of the planet’s worst crises.

Over the past year, Sudan has slipped into an abyss stretching from the Sahara to the Red Sea.

One year ago, on April 15, clashes erupted between Sudan’s army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, a former Janjaweed militia that committed genocide in Darfur. Following 30 years of military rule, the dreams of democracy and progress were again shattered by gunfire and explosions in the capital, Khartoum.

Throughout the past year, the people of Sudan have endured unimaginable suffering and misery. The fighting has spread, engulfing the entire country with no apparent end in sight.

Thousands have lost their lives—with more than 9 million people forced to flee their homes.

The largest displacement crisis for children in the entire world is not in Ukraine.

It is not in Gaza, either.

It is in Sudan.

Darfur, in Sudan’s west, is once more the site of horrific human rights violations and episodes of violence against entire communities. Yet, unlike the genocide in Darfur two decades ago, Sudan’s suffering is not splashed across the headlines in America and Europe. It does not receive the media, diplomatic, or humanitarian attention it deserves—certainly not given the scale of the cataclysm.

As we solemnly reflect on a year of war in Sudan on April 15, we hope for some semblance of peace to grace the country and its people.

To us, it is deeply personal. Sudan was a critical part of our journeys to the United States as refugees.

Since the early days of its independence from the British, Sudan has a long history of welcoming those fleeing conflict and persecution in their home countries. We have seen it with our own eyes.

We now lead an organization that advocates for refugee rights globally and resettles refugees and other newcomers in the United States. From our volunteers to our employees, we watch refugees from all beliefs and backgrounds step up to welcome their new neighbors, from Afghan evacuees to Ukrainian families.

Our shared humanity calls us, from the grassroots level to the United Nations, to do better.

Sudan and its people need the world’s help. The country’s plight must no longer be ignored, relegated to a second- or third-order priority—if it is a priority at all.

The United States must explore ways it can improve humanitarian access, protect vulnerable people, and bring an end to the fighting. These efforts are more desperate than ever as the fighting goes on in town after town.

We should no longer tolerate the “selective humanity” present in some of our humanitarian responses—when tragedies taking place on some parts of the map are worth our concern, while mass suffering elsewhere is not.

Sudan deserves peace. We can only hope the next year brings an end to this nightmare.

 

Eskinder Negash is the president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). He is a former refugee from Eritrea.

Omer Omer is the director of USCRI’s North Carolina field office in Raleigh. He is a former refugee from Sudan.


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