Sudan heading for refugee crisis as war escalates – but international solidarity isn’t forthcoming
Hundreds of thousands could flee Sudan as peace negotiations break down. Up to 860,000 people could be displaced by the growing conflict there. Yet the UK’s home secretary has already said Sudanese people will not get a refugee scheme like Ukraine.
A ceasefire effort was left in tatters on Thursday as the UN warned of an exodus of 860,000 refugees. And in Khartoum, witnesses reported fighting on the streets.
The foreign ministry accused the Rapid Support Force (RSF) of attacking the Indian embassy in Khartoum, which the diplomatic mission did not immediately confirm. It is the latest in a spate of such incidents.
Deadly urban combat broke out on 15 April between Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. The fighting has killed about 700 people.
The UN refugee agency said it was preparing for an outflow of 860,000 people from the north African country. The agency said $445 million would be needed to support them just through October.
Raouf Mazou, the UNHCR’s assistant chief of operations, said:
We urgently need timely, new funding to respond to the mounting needs.
The needs are vast, and the challenges are numerous. If the crisis continues, peace and stability across the region could be at stake.
More than 115,000 people have already fled Sudan into neighbouring countries since the fighting erupted.
The UK has already provided extensive support for Ukrainian refugees. But home secretary Suella Braverman ruled out similar support early on in the Sudan crisis. Braverman dodged questions on safe routes when challenged by the BBC in April:
'You were coming up with safe routes from Ukraine, would it be sensible to do the same from Sudan?'
On #BBCBreakfast Jon questions Home Secretary Suella Braverman about the evacuations of people from Sudan https://t.co/WLLJqwal2M pic.twitter.com/bl4toyu4on
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) April 26, 2023
Journalist Alex Tiffin noted the different treatment:
Now the "glamour" of military airlifts and "heroic rescues" are over, Sudanese people are their plight is being ignored or forgotten.
Many news outlets still give significant coverage of events in Ukraine on a daily basis.
Sudan is already disappearing from the cycle.…
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) May 5, 2023
Consultant with the World Health Organisation, Dr, Javid Abdelmoneim, pointed out the difference in urgency:
Given UK response to #Sudan, am reading more about the Ukraine Family Scheme, launched 5 days after the start of that war.
Today is day 15 of Sudan war.
👉🏽“Family” included anyone, even in grandparent-in-laws pic.twitter.com/wOSIOKt7ED
— Javid Abdelmoneim (@DrJavidA) April 29, 2023
One Twitter user rightly showed the hypocrisy of the international community in rallying around white refugees from Ukraine, and nobody else:
after Ukraine, we were told war is an equalizer and the international community will stop at nothing to rescue victims of war. Sudan, 2023 shows us again the hypocrisy of the “international community” https://t.co/AQx8P4Refw
— suhayl (@ibnalyyaman) April 29, 2023
The Refugee Council made the salient point that Ukrainians have been given safe routes of escape, and so don’t have to cross the Channel:
The absence of Ukrainian refugees crossing the Channel highlights the value of safe routes. Homes for Ukraine gave thousands of people a safe way to come to the UK. But people fleeing war and persecution in Eritrea, Iran and Sudan don't have that option. #SafeRoutesSaveLives pic.twitter.com/RxTotDh5lP
— Refugee Council 🧡 (@refugeecouncil) May 5, 2023
Once again, the UK government is covering itself in shame when it comes to refugees from the Global South. And this is despite its own bloody colonial history in Sudan. As we stand at the precipice of another massive human tragedy in Africa, we should ask once again how we ended up here. And then, we should demand that refugees from Sudan are faced with the same outpouring of sympathy, refuge, and collective solidarity as white refugees.
Additional reporting by Agence-France Press
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/DFID, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY 2.0.
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