North West Migrants Forum

NWMF - Sudan 2023

‘Every Day I Die Inside Thinking About My Country’

Members of the public sift through the debris after an airstrike struck a residential area of Khartoum. (Image Above)

A Sudanese man living in Derry says he fears for the safety of his family following an explosion of violence in his country.
Hundreds of people have lost their lives since deadly clashes erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.

Khalid – who asked only to be identified by his first name for security reasons – has lived in Derry for the past 20 months. Originally from Darfur in Sudan, he is seeking asylum in Northern Ireland after fleeing his home due to safety concerns.

His wife and daughter recently managed to get out of the capital Khartoum where gun battles and air strikes have left nearly 700,000 civilians displaced. They are now safely in Egypt but many of Khalid’s relatives, including his elderly parents, remain at risk.

In his old life Khalid worked as a lecturer in Sudan where things were good and pleasant. But the North West Migrants Forum member said he now wakes up every morning terrified that something awful may have happened to his loved ones.

“Khartoum is a very nice city and I had a good job there. Sudan itself is a beautiful country and the Sudanese people are a very distinctive people, a very kind people,” he said. The clashes that erupted in April are between the two main factions of Sudan’s military regime.
The Sudanese armed forces are broadly loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto ruler, while the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) follow Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.

Caught in the middle of the increasingly bloody conflict are ordinary families like Khalid’s. “It is a street war, it is horrible. My wife told me that there are dead bodies in the street, awful scenes.

“The situation in the whole of Sudan is terrible but in Khartoum particularly it is so dangerous. There is no guarantee for safety or life because there are literally stray bullets coming through windows and doors. There is also bombardment from the air and so many people have been killed because of that.”

NWMF May 2023

A house moments after it was struck by air artillery.

On Wednesday evening Khalid received the news he had been longing for – that his wife and daughter had reached Cairo. But with no one there to look after them, their immediate future remains deeply uncertain. Ultimately he would like to find them passage to the UK and to Derry.

“They are now safe because they are away from the battle. They have no one in Egypt waiting to receive them but at least they are in another country, a safe country.
“My daughter is literally on the phone crying to me, asking when can we come to you. I tell her to be patient and one day it will happen. I have no idea when but I hope it is as soon as possible.”

Khalid is kept up to date on the situation in his home country via the internet and through the many WhatsApp messages he receives from friends. Seeing Sudan being torn apart is heartbreaking, he added.

“I worry so much and every day I die inside so many times thinking about what is happening in my country. I think of my family all the time and I pray that they can come here.

“In such a short space of time Khartoum has been destroyed because they are using such heavy artillery. They are using these weapons in residential areas so there is only ever going to be one outcome.
“It is just despair and I really don’t know we can do, it is a very scary time.”

Khalid recently spent time in Belfast with Sudanese friends who are also feeling the strain as the situation back home continues to deteriorate.

“I knew that if I stayed here in Derry, I would collapse. That is how bad it is. I am constantly thinking of my family, my mum and dad, all my relatives.”

As to what happens next, he is pleading with the UK Government for help.

“I would be very grateful if the Government could find a safe pathway for my small family, to bring them here as soon as possible. I would be so grateful.

“There is nothing left in Khartoum, you can’t imagine it. There are no hospitals, the schools are gone, the streets, the bridges, they have destroyed everything. It is a terrible war and I don’t think it will end soon.

“You have two generals and each wants to conquer the other. It is the innocent citizens who are paying the price and it breaks my heart to see what is happening.”

NWMF - Sudan 2023

Locals grapple with bricks and concrete following another devastating blast in Khartoum.