top of page

The unspoken diaspora: why Sudan's civil war remains overlooked



A long-simmering dispute in Sudan between SAF and RSF exploded on the 15th of April of 2023, into a full-blown gunfire in its capital city, Khartoum, for the military control of the North African nation.


After centuries of Egyptian, Turkish and British colonisation, Sudan finally gained its independence in 1956. Soon thereafter, the country fell into a cycle of civil wars and revolutions that lasted until 1972, i.e. the first and failed short-term endeavours to constitute democracy.

Sudan's civil strife during the Al-Bashir dictatorship (1989-2019) was marked by prolonged conflict, notably the Second Sudanese Civil War. Al-Bashir's imposition of Sharia on the non-Muslim South peoples sparked the conflict, resulting in displacement, famine, and widespread outrage, favoured by the army (SAF) and the paramilitary forces (RSF).

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 brought a temporary halt to the conflict, leading to South Sudan's secession in 2011. This achievement has resulted in an economic slump in Sudan, as many of the oil resources that financially sustained the country were based in the seceded southern territories. In April 2019, far-reaching protests led to al-Bashir's removal, culminating in a transitional allied control of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, SAF’s chief, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (also known as Hemeti), RSF’s leader and previously Janjaweed’s commander.

As soon as Burhan became the de facto leader of Sudan, Hemeti withheld his second-fiddle role, especially because he developed personal alliances with foremen in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia over the years, just like Burhan did. The main discrepancy was using his riches from the gold mine upheld by mercenaries from the Wagner Group, feeding the coffers of Moscow and perhaps those of its ally - Iran.

This tension routed to an ascending strain between the two leaders that eventually led to the genocidal outbreak of April 2023.

Unseen casualties

The victims of Sudan's civil wars are several and diverse, with various social groups experiencing different forms of hardship and oppression. The number of civilian casualties in the pogrom makes a precise assessment virtually impossible, although some academics have estimated more than two million people were killed between 1983 and 2005. Alex De Waal, a British researcher and one of the foremost experts on Sudan politics, also stressed the displacement issue: eight months into the conflict, Sudan has become the largest internal refugee crisis in the world. The country currently counts over 7.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and, according to IOM data, over 1.2 million more people have fled to neighbouring countries, with Chad receiving the most arrivals followed by Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, and Libya. IDPs often face harsh living conditions in camps, with limited or even non-existent access to basic necessities such as food, clean water, and healthcare.

Of the 160 ethnic groups that make up its population, a small majority of individuals of Arab origin continues to dominate social and political life while oppressing local Cushitic and Nilo-Saharan minorities. Instances of tribal cleansing have occurred particularly during the Darfur conflict, noteworthy to recall the Masalit purge.

The conflict has also had a disproportionately higher toll on women and children. According to Amnesty International, there have been “extensive war crimes including rape and sexual slavery of women and children in the ongoing conflict.” The ongoing conflict has seen the recruitment and use of child soldiers, exposing young individuals to the physical and psychological traumas of war.

Activists and journalists endorsing human rights and freedom of expression have faced persecution, including arrest, intimidation, and executions, as illustrated by the case of Halima Idris Salim’s death.

The conflicts have also intensified the already existing economic crisis, already set throughout the Al-Bashir dictatorship during which 60-70% of public spending was invested in military equipment, exacerbating poverty and hindering development, affecting the livelihoods of many Sudanese.

Faced with silence

The Western world seems to lack sympathy concerning this bloodshed.

One key factor contributing to this lack of attention is the presence of other high-profile conflicts and crises around the globe. The news cycle is often dominated by closer and more shocking events such as the Ukrainian war, the recently re-ignited hostilities of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and ongoing frictions in the Middle East, which are diverting and overshadowing awareness away from Sudan's struggle for stability. This concept is substantiated in Herman and Chomsky’s “worthy and unworthy victims” theory portrayed in “Manufacturing consent”, showing how the Untermensch concept has still not been fully annihilated.

The intricate nature of the conflict, coupled with the presence of other eminent crises, has created a situation where the plight of Sudanese civilians struggles to find a prominent place in the international dialogue. As the world continues to grapple with various challenges, it is crucial to revisit and reassess the factors contributing to the lack of discourse on Sudan and work towards fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the nation's genocidal struggles.

Articoli Correlati

In Africa, il Corno non è sempre dell'Africa

L’effetto domino della crisi climatica in Africa

Cosa possiamo aspettarci dalle riforme economiche in Egitto?

Cosa possiamo aspettarci dalle riforme economiche in Egitto?

Cosa possiamo aspettarci dalle riforme economiche in Egitto?

L’effetto domino della crisi climatica in Africa

L’effetto domino della crisi climatica in Africa
bottom of page