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[This blog was produced for Waging Peace by Khadidja Fadoul, vice-president of the Zaghawa community association in the UK and North Ireland, and founder of Almahana Women’s Welfare (a charity registered in both Chad and Sudan).]

We were actively working on the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Darfur with different activities such as Waging Peace events, participating at the Sudan’s Doctors for Human Rights event, and others when unfortunately war started again in Sudan. It started one month exactly after the Sudanese community met King Charles on the 15th of March, it was terrifying!

It started in the capital Khartoum, but spread all over the country. I have friends and family there. In the beginning there was heavy gunfire between the military and Janjaweed with videos circulating on WhatsApp with each declaring victory over the other. Civilians were killed, their houses were looted, loved ones were murdered, and finally they were forced to flee to neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Chad, and so on depending on their locations.

The war took long and gradually went deeper, no party respected or was willing to ‘cease fire’ despite many attempts at intervention by the international community. It got worse when expatriates evacuated and the Masalit leader was executed horribly. My cousin call and reassured me that they were safe, another cousin in the same city said an explosion next door neighbour killed a child and left debris in their house. I called my mom’s little sister and advised her to leave Khartoum, but she mocked me, “where we go my daughter, we will stay in our home”. I called my dad’s sister, she asked me to give her daughter and her kids news as she couldn’t get in touch for days, then weeks. The war is all over Sudan but in Darfur was exceptionally intense, especially in El Geneina. At the beginning shops were burgled, food stores were burnt, there was no water, food, or gas supply, then communication was cut off.

I was in touch with relatives in El Geneina: one auntie said we have little water, now we have to prioritise between drink, ablutions, and cooking. She couldn’t see her independent children and their kids in El Geneina for days because it wasn’t safe, and she didn’t know what happened to them. With no network or coverage, war continued to ravage Darfur, with no news internally nor externally, yet there  were mass killings, hundreds injured, and no hospitals. People who managed to cross the border met with loved ones at Adré in Chad. After a month without communication, my auntie made it safely to Adré. My relatives have been dispersed to Tina, Halfa, Jazeera, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, and a few to western countries. It is terrifying!

On 26th of June I travelled to Adré from London on a humanitarian trip to assist victims. It wasn’t easy as it wasn’t planned with a lot of notice, the trip is long, I had family and work commitments, plus it was rainy season with bad infrastructure.

I arrived in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, on Arafah day [the day before Eid]. As soon as I reached home, I made calls to prepare and arrange for the trip as soon as possible. Eid was the next day and would continue for three days. As vice-president of the Zaghawa community association in the UK and North Ireland, I went to the refugee camp to distribute 2,000 mosquito nets and 400 tent covers to Sudanese refugees in Adré. Watch a video of this process here.

After execution of the project, the Sudanese community in Wolverhampton contacted me and through OLCCA, an organisation that I work for. We distributed pasta and soap to around 480 households in Adré. We also dug 2 water pumps in Ouarang camp, home to 30,000 refugees. OLCCA in collaboration with Almahana Women’s Welfare (a charity registered in both Chad and Sudan which I founded) distributed clothes and menstrual pads to over 500 people. Almahana opened a free mini pharmacy to the refugees in Adré which was so helpful. For example, one day at the busiest clinic, doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières ran out of blood readings for diabetes, which is needed for many patients in order to be treated. Almahana supplied necessary equipment and support immediately and for free.

We are looking for fund to help and support refugees. Chad has hosted millions of Sudanese since 2003, 20 later more millions are adding to these number. The government, military, and citizens welcomed Sudanese refugees even though the country itself is classified as one of the poorer nations globally.

The camp is huge, with many more people arriving every day. My first day at the camp I burst into tears when I met people and heard their histories. People are in need, nothing is thrown away or wasted. In the middle of the camp I met an auntie, first we cried then talked and laughed. The khor [a dried riverbed, used as a makeshift latrine in the camp] was so smelly that when first crossing it I vomited. There was no latrine, people do their business in the open which will cause health issues. There wasn’t space for meeting together, nor for children to play or learn, nothing. Adults and children need space to socialise after what they went through.

On 21st of August as part of the Darfuri delegation I attended the International Criminal Court where we expressed concerns and brought the voices of those who could not be there to seek justice for two decades of violence in Darfur. There will never be peace without justice. The war in Sudan did not just affect millions of refugees recognised by UNHCR but millions that are trapped inside Sudan, and friends & family outside Sudan. People need protection and provision of basic necessities urgently.

Sudan was a lovely and culturally diverse country, today unfortunately destroyed! We are hoping for peaceful and stable Sudan soon.

Maddy Crowther

Author Maddy Crowther

Maddy Crowther, Co-Executive Director Maddy joined Waging Peace in September 2014 from a background in communications and public affairs, as well as academic experience studying African politics at Cambridge University. She is a Horn of Africa expert, also serving as the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea.

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