‘It’s heartbreaking’: Sudanese Winnipeggers worry for families

The effects of a devastating conflict in Sudan are being felt by loved ones in Manitoba.

On Monday, the U.N. envoy to Sudan said more than 180 people have been killed and 1,800 people have been injured as fighting has broke out between forces loyal to the country’s top two generals.

Abrar Abdelmahmoud is a refugee from Sudan. She’s worried for the lives of her family – caught in the crossfire of a battle that began Saturday.

“To be honest I’m still in the state of shock,” Abdelmahmoud said. “I’m devastated. I’m very worrisome of where this is going to take, like where is this going to.”

Dr. Zainab Doleeb was also born in Sudan, where many members of her family still live.

“I’ve called different relatives and many of them – they can actually hear the fighting and they cannot leave,” Doleeb said.

She says the timing of the conflict is especially difficult.

“It’s quite heartbreaking because this is the holy month of Ramadan. We’re all looking forward to Eid and it was just sad to see that.”

Islamic Relief Canada, based out of Ontario, had been working to provide humanitarian relief in Sudan when the fighting began.

“As we reach the holiest nights of Ramadan, Islamic Relief Canada is calling for an immediate halt to the violence on all sides to ensure that civilians and humanitarian workers are protected from harm,” it said in a statement.

The group says food prices, in some places, have tripled since Saturday, and many shops, markets, and banks have closed.

It also says hospitals are running out of blood bags, oxygen, and fuel.

“We are deeply concerned to hear about humanitarian workers who have been killed and aid agencies offices that have been looted throughout the violence, which has led to the suspension of vital humanitarian work.”

Doleeb says rural areas of the country are safer – but roads are blocked.

“This fighting – it will only harm the civilians and we’re already seeing the repercussions.”

Doleeb says The Community of the Sudanese Canadian in Manitoba will begin fundraising for Sudan this week.

Abdelmahmoud does not know when she’ll be able to return to visit family.

“It’s heartbreaking because every summer that’s what we look forward to, spending that time to just sit back and just like relax and now it’s become, it’s not a safe space anymore.” 

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