SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of people have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced as a result of fighting in Sudan that erupted April 15, according to the United Nations.
The Sudanese army and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been at odds over a power struggle for control of the nation. Residential neighborhoods and hospitals have been the targets of attacks and food and water have become scarce.
The fear has mounted in Sacramento as local Sudanese families pray for their loved ones' safety.
"This has probably been the first time that people are actually living in fear for their life. Sudan as a country has dealt with a lot of calamities, lack of access to basic health needs and basic life needs. This has created an added tier, added level of worry about their safety and their life so this is traumatic across all levels," said Dr. Enass Arahman, vice president of the Sudanese Association of Greater Sacramento.
It's why a coalition of Sudanese organizations across Northern California are rallying on May 13 at the State Capitol to protest against the violence in Sudan. Organizers, community members and allies will come together to provide support for one another and to raise awareness about the conflict.
"We think our people back home have not had a voice in the international community and unfortunately their pain and suffering has not reached the world as it should," said Arahman.
Arahman says this war has had far reaching impacts on all Sudanese communities — including herself and the more than 1,500 Sudanese people living in Northern California.
"I don't think any Sudanese person living anywhere outside Sudan is not experiencing this extreme sense of sadness, grief. We're hurting because we have loved ones there, we're hurting because of what is happening," said Arahman.
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What do we know about the conflicts in Sudan?
Years before the fight that erupted in April, the army and RSF were united to overthrow longtime Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in a military coup in 1989 and was president for 30 years. The massive revolution in 2019 was an effort to transition to a democratic system.
"We have high intellectuals that have the capacity and know how to build the country, and everyone was excited and thrilled. There was reverse migration where people saw that glimmer of light that they can go back and start working under that new government," said Arahman. "Unfortunately this did not come to fruition mainly because the remnants of that regime have been fighting nail and tooth to stay in power."
Just two years later, the country's transitional government would be toppled in a second coup. The country's army and RSF have since not been able to agree on plans for a new transition, and the two main figures in this conflict have been the army's leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF's General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (also known as Hemedti).
Now, civilians have been caught at the center of it all as the most recent conflict erupted in the nation's capital city, Khartoum.
Arahman is hopeful that the Sacramento community can create some positive, tangible change by having more people show up to the rally in solidarity.
She also encourages others to call their government officials who can influence change on a wider level to condemn acts of violence.
"One level is also to try to get to government officials and people who can have a say because we all know prevention is better than a cure," said Arahman.
If you want to get involved, you can also donate to organizations that are providing emergency relief. You can offer financial help below.
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