Since 15 April, clashes in Sudan between the regular army, led by President Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, known as Hemedti, have been causing displacement, death and starvation. According to the IOM (International Organisation for Migration), this is the worst humanitarian crisis the country has ever seen: 1.1 million people have been forced to leave their homes, both in the capital Khartoum and in other cities.
Br Peter Tindo, OFM, guardian of the fraternity in Khartoum, was also forced to leave his friary in search of a safe place in Juba, South Sudan. He recounts what he experienced and saw: "On 12 May, I left Khartoum. The situation was dramatic; there were weapons everywhere; after a month of fighting, the supplies the people had stockpiled were running out, food was starting to run out, and many people were dying". He added: "This war spares no one: bullets kill people, even civilians, who are not at war. Another problem is the looters, who devastate houses to steal. If you are on the street, people will attack you and take what you have in your hands or in your pockets. So Khartoum was becoming very dangerous and unsafe".
Br Peter explains with great sadness how he left the Sudanese capital: "Getting out of the capital was a big risk. Someone took me to the bus station, and then, with other people, I took a small vehicle that took us out of Khartoum to the Joda border [with South Sudan]. But it was very risky. When we approached our destination, military planes were right above us, but we managed to get out of the country safely. There are many checkpoints where they check what you have and take everything away - they took the little money I had in my pocket for the trip".
Asked how so many displaced people can be helped, Br Peter said: "First, it would be better to help the displaced people who are in Renk [north-eastern area of South Sudan]. They urgently need mosquito nets, covers to protect them from the sun, food and water. About 10,000 or 20,000 of us were out in the open in Renk. Later we also think of the people who remained in Khartoum. In cooperation with the local church, we can get things to those in need".
On 21 May, during the Regina Caeli prayer, Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Sudan and called for the intervention of the international community: 'In encouraging the partial agreements reached so far, I renew my heartfelt appeal for arms to be laid down, and I ask the international community to spare no effort to make dialogue prevail and alleviate the suffering of the population. Please, let us not become accustomed to conflict and violence".
The Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, through the OFM Fraternitas Foundation, has set up a committee to coordinate and support the displaced populations of Sudan through our confreres in South Sudan and Egypt. To support our brothers and sisters suffering as a result of the conflict, you can make your donation at the following link: Emergency Sudan