Update: Humanitarian response in Sudan

By Enass Muzamel

Since the start of the war in Sudan in April, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries to seek safety. Many more have been internally displaced.  

AFSC and partners have mounted an emergency humanitarian response to assist refugees arriving in Ethiopia and South Sudan. Thanks to supporters like you, we are raising funds to help families meet their immediate needs, including food, medicine, clothing, hygiene supplies, and immigration and travel expenses. We are also joining with trusted partners on the ground to advocate for an end to the violence—and for peace and stability for all in the region.  

Enass Muzamel and her two sisters were able to evacuate from Sudan to Ethiopia, with support from AFSC. Enass is a human rights defender and co-founder of the Sudanese nonprofit organization Madaniya, which supports active participation among women and youth in their communities and in policymaking.  

Recently, Enass discussed her experience leaving her home country—and the urgent need for support for Sudanese refugees and internally displaced people. 

On escaping Khartoum  

I wasn’t planning to leave Khartoum, but I didn’t have a choice. One of the reasons we left our house in the beginning was because our neighbor—who lives just four or five houses down the street—was just cooking in her home, and she was killed. We saw that.   

In all, it took us nine days to reach Addis Ababa.  

My two sisters and I moved from one city to another almost every day. We rented flats that would normally cost $10-$15 USD a day, but because of the war and people taking advantage of the situation, rents were $100-$150 USD a day. Some of these places were horrible. We saw the same thing with prices for food and transport. 

We also traveled some very dangerous roads. AFSC arranged a private driver to take us in a caravan to Ethiopia.  

When we reached Ethiopia immigration, we were surprised that the cost of a visa was $80, when it was just $50 a few months ago. All of these costs can be very difficult for refugees. Many have fled their homes without anything. Many don’t have access to their bank accounts because banks in Sudan have been destroyed. And the value of the Sudanese dollar is now worth just half of what it was.  

On resettling in Addis Ababa  

It’s not easy. It’s now been almost two weeks in Addis. Everything is different from Sudan. Thanks for the AFSC, it’s been good.  

We have been staying in a guesthouse in Addis Ababa (of an AFSC staff member). It has been lovely because we have had meals at her house, and she has taken us to many places, including to the park to read books. Tomorrow we will be moving to a flat to have more privacy.   

Now we are facing the issue of having to get an extended visa in Ethiopia. Ours is going to expire on the 29th of this month. Yesterday we spent the whole day at the immigration services. We arrived early morning, and there were already 300 people ahead of us. We are hoping to extend our visa for at least another three months.   

We are also keeping busy with other initiatives, which helps me forget about my own problems. We are having meetings with other groups in the Salama Hub, [a coalition supported by AFSC], who want to talk about the situation and see how they can help through advocacy and drawing attention to the region.  

I’m still very involved in what’s going on in Khartoum, working day and night and communicating with people there. I’m helping to reach out to pharmacies, resources for food and water, and helping people with temporary relocation.  

On the humanitarian situation in Sudan  

It’s a humanitarian disaster in Sudan. The health sector is completely damaged—90% of hospitals are bombed. People don’t have water, food, and electricity. People are going back to wells. Now some people are even drinking water from the Nile.  

People have to wait in line for hours just to get 10 pieces of bread. But even though food is out there, you might be shot trying to get it. Older people or people with chronic disease are dying by themselves, without access to health facilities.   

The military people want to isolate Khartoum residents. [It’s like] people are locked in a big prison without any access to medicine, health facilities, and they’re depending on social and community networks.  

It’s very sad to see the army and RSF negotiating about the fate of all Sudanese people—as if they are the two parties representing the whole country. It’s just heartbreaking. We want more international attention to what’s happening. If this Sudanese war continues, this county will disappear. The neighboring countries in Africa and the Middle East will be affected by that. People need to do the right thing to help people in the short, medium, and long term.

It's also important to support human rights defenders. They are people on the front lines of everything. When you help human rights defenders, you are helping tens of thousands more people because they do so much work for many others.  

Thank you to all who have donated to support AFSC’s humanitarian relief efforts in Sudan. We continue to gratefully accept donations to support refugees like Enass.