Sudanese civil war: Students highlight crisis in exclusive interview

Personal stories from Sudanese students highlight the human toll of the civil war in Sudan.

The Sudanese civil war isn't just a conflict between the Army and the RSF, but it also engulfs the civilians, whose sufferings remain covered.

The Sudanese civil war has severely impacted lives of people

Sudan, a land rich with cultural diversity and having over 500 tribes, is fighting an identity crisis that has taken the shape of a full-scale war. As the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Army clash against each other, the true victims of the war are the civilians who are caught in the crossfire.

Sudan’s defacto leader and Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is threatened by the RSF led by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo. The Army and the paramilitary are locked over a battle that has exposed the African nation to a major humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations (UN) estimates show that over 15,000 people have been killed in the Sudanese civil war that erupted on April 15th 2023.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 7.4m people have been displaced by the Sudanese civil war.

Together with the 3.8m internally displaced people due to previous conflicts, the OCHA claims that Sudan houses the world’s largest population of internally displaced people.

Nearly 3m of them are children. Also, nearly 25m people in Sudan need immediate humanitarian assistance.

In an exclusive interview with the East Post, Sudanese students living in India highlight the sufferings of their people and share their perspectives on the Sudanese civil war back home, giving a human face to a geopolitical crisis that the international community has ignored.

Mohamed Tarig Abdelgadir, originally from Darfur in western Sudan, recently completed his bachelor’s in Pune. Abdelgadir gives an account of the economic dynamics that are fueling the conflict. 

“The RSF’s power is mainly because of their control over the gold mines in the mountains. This financial backing keeps them in the war, while the Army is self-funded and reliant,” Mr Abdelgadir told the East Post

He further explains that the RSF, originally responsible for cross-border security, now has a vision for “New Sudan” under their leadership.

Mohamed Tarig Abdelgadir

Sudan’s geographical location, bordering seven nations, is both an asset and a liability to the country. As Mr Abdelgadir notes, “Our neighbours rely on us, but open borders also work in the favour of  rebels.”

This political factor is enhanced by the RSF’s tactics. 

“They’re blocking access to electricity and water by closing dams, severely affecting civilians,” Mr Abdelgadir alleges.

Mohamed AbdulMoneem from Khartoum, who is studying at MIT WPU, Pune, shares harrowing accounts from his friends and family. 

“They’ve fled to South Sudan and Egypt due to shortages of electricity, water and medical supplies,” Mr AbdulMoneem told the East Post. 

He claims that his friends have not only been injured by the RSF but also detained and threatened. 

Almamoun Siddig Mahmoud Hassan

“The RSF demanded money from them and other resources. But when they refused, they were held up for two days. Many of my friends were killed by the RSF. We hold the RSF accountable for this war,” Mr AbdulMoneem alleged.

The consequences of this war extended beyond the borders of Sudan, as Mr AbdulMoneem explains: “For two months, I couldn’t receive money from home as the banking was shut down. It was the worst time for my family and me.”

Almamoun Siddig Mahmoud Hassan paints a grim picture of his home country. “Infrastructure, hospitals, and schools are destroyed. The Army is trying to clear RSF forces,” Mr Hassan told the East Post

Mohammed Elkhatim Habib Khalifa

The personal toll is evident in his words: “Five of my friends joined the Army; my neighbour was killed. We struggled for two months as we didn’t receive funds from home as our families were shifting to safer places and due to the bank system, thankfully it was during Ramadan when we had to only eat once a day Sometimes you can’t attend college, but my family’s struggle to find basic necessities in their new city was far worse. I wish to return and join the army. It’s been five years in India, but Sudan needs us.”

Alharith Omar Dhamra pursuing an MTech in Pune has a message: “We need the world, especially India, to talk more about Sudan and Gaza. Greater awareness could make a difference.”

Selim Salah Selim, a design student from MIT WPU Pune, was in Khartoum when the war erupted. “We saw it coming when Mohammed Hamdan refused to leave the airport,” he claimed. 

Selim’s family, seeking medical treatment, paid a heavy price due to the conflict. “My aunt had heart problems. Due to the shooting, we couldn’t reach the hospital. She and another member of the family passed away; my uncle lost his leg,” Mr Selim told the East Post.

Mohammed Elkhatim Habib Khalifa, the president of the Sudanese Students Association, Pune, offers a broader perspective. “The war stems from power distribution issues. Both the government and RSF are accountable,” Mr Khalifa claims. He points to the international interests behind the conflict. “The UAE’s backing of the RSF shows how foreign nations influence our conflict,” Mr Khalifa alleges.

While the UAE and Libya’s militias are accused of supporting RSF, the Sudanese Army is allegedly getting support from Egypt.

Personal losses compound his analysis. “Part of my house in East Sudan is destroyed. We’ve lost friends in the war. I want to go back to fight for my country. It’s the only home we have,” Mr Khalifa adds. Here in India, Sudanese students face financial and mental strain, he claims. “Colleges don’t cooperate with late fee payments. Whatever savings people had are depleting,” he highlights.

Mohammed Elkhatim Habib Khalifa

Mr Khalifa touches on a deeply human aspect of the conflict in Sudan. “We, as Sudanese, might be struggling now; no one is standing with us. Discrimination makes me question now, we don’t know how humanity looks anymore. Maybe humanity is based on colour or it has criteria to fit in, which we as Sudanese don’t do,” Mr Khalifa points out.

The students show us a contrasting narrative—one which is fuelled by suffering and resilience while the RSF claims that it is “restoring democracy”.

Mr Khalifa’s agony reflects and resonates with the dire situation prevailing in Sudan, which remains in the oblivion of global geopolitical discourse. “Home is burning, lives are lost but we love this country and will die for it. One day, the world will need us, and we’ll remember who stood by us in our darkest hour,” Mr Khalifa highlights.

In a world distorted and influenced by geopolitical interests, the voices of these students from Sudan remind us that behind every conflict are human stories—of loss, hope, and the desire for peace. 

As Sudan burns, its diaspora asks: Will the world listen?

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