Hundreds of thousands flee Sudan as humanitarian situation deteriorates amid violence

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are fleeing to neighboring countries to escape the violence that has killed more than 400 in the last week and a half. Aid agencies are warning the humanitarian situation is increasingly dire because of a political fight that has been brewing for years. Nick Schifrin reports.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are fleeing to neighboring countries to escape violence that's killed more than 400 people in the last week-and-a-half.

    And, as Nick Schifrin tells us, aid agencies are warning, the humanitarian situation is increasingly dire because of a political fight that's been brewing for years.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Today, the U.N. agency that coordinates humanitarian affairs warned that it had to pull back from parts of Sudan, as a country of 45 million copes with shortages of water, food and access to medicine.

    The U.S. and others are trying to end the fighting between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the armed forces, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, comprised of former militias that committed the genocide in Western Sudan's Darfur region that killed more than two million people.

    The two men were supposed to help return the country to civilian rule demanded by the 2019 pro-democracy popular uprising.

    One of those who participated in that uprising is writer Muzan Alneel, who joins me now from Khartoum.

    Muzan Alneel, thank you very much. Welcome back to the "NewsHour."

    As we just said, there's a humanitarian crisis. What are the conditions that you, your neighbors, and millions of Sudanese face today?

    Muzan Alneel, Sudanese Researcher and Writer: The situation right now is that, for 11 days, we have been under heavy fighting, and there are around 10 million people living in this city, most of them under the poverty line, most of them without any stable access to electricity or water.

    The electricity network is followed by the e-banking system that many depend on to get food or be able to evacuate their families from Khartoum. It has also fell apart. The telecommunication has fell apart. People are just trying to survive this. We see Sudanese people restoring to popular and mutual aid, which is the only thing that they have.

    And the street is being used now by the people to form networks in their neighborhoods to know where the water is, to be able even to run some of the health centers, instead of those hospitals that are impossible to reach right now.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And those popular efforts, they're led by the resistance committees, right, the same committees that helped the revolution in 2019, sustain it through the coup in 2021 up until today, right?

  • Muzan Alneel:

    The tactics that we learned from the resistance committees that we are using to network, to have mutual aid, to be able to evacuate ourselves and evacuate our families and our loved ones, and even help evacuate and help provide food and medicine to people.

    The concept of mutual aid mutual is what sustaining the people, not the international aid diplomats who called for a realistic approach by partnering with the — with the criminals

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Well, let me ask about the politics of this moment.

    The last time we spoke a few years ago, our segment was followed by an interview I did with the then-U.S. special envoy to the region, who argued that the generals who are fighting in the streets right now had to be at the table, part of the negotiation process. Do you think that the U.S., the international community accommodated them, helping lead to the violence we see today?

  • Muzan Alneel:

    That was definitely accommodating them, legitimizing them, giving them the platform that they needed to have all their international deals and their stronger ties with the within the region.

    We were asked to be realistic after a massacre and accept those war criminals. We were asked to be realistic after a coup. And we are even, I think, will be asked to be realistic after a war, because I'm hearing news of some sort of negotiation, that they want to bring them back into — into ruling or bring back whatever kind of political process they called it, that, basically, to bring back the same old agreement that brought us all that we are going through right now.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    What's been your response, as you have seen U.S. special operations forces fly into the capital to evacuate U.S. diplomats?

    We have seen the U.N. have to pull back, other countries spend time at the airport with their militaries trying to pull out civilians, as millions in Sudan face these dire humanitarian conditions.

  • Muzan Alneel:

    My priority are the people most in need. And those are the poorer of the Sudanese people.

    And they are getting help from themselves and from mutual aid, from resistance committees, and from neighborhood networks that are forming themselves to govern themselves and somehow provide for themselves. That's what I focus on.

    So, when I think about whatever evacuation efforts that are happening, good for them. Flee out of a war zone. It's not good to be out in a war zone. It's not good if your country is turned into a war zone, and you have nowhere else to run.

    But the fact that they didn't even consider to bring any sort of medical support with them, any sort of medical equipment or medicines that are in — we're in dire need. They were sending airplanes and not even sending medicines to us. Like, it's absurd to even follow what they're doing. There isn't one place that will tell you, these are the needs and here's where you can, like, send your donation.

    No, it's a — it's decentralized. And everyone's trying to figure out what's happening in their neighborhood. And that is what's working for us right now. There is no U.N. agency that is here to support. There is no international organization that is here to support. We are supporting ourselves.

    So, try to support us, but please use all the meeting rooms you have to get them to stop the war zone.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Muzan Alneel, thank you very much.

  • Muzan Alneel:

    Thank you.

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