What is going on in Sudan

Here’s everything going on in Sudan explained as simply as we can

Military violence has broken out across the country


Violence has erupted in Sudan as the country’s army and military continue a long-standing battle for power. Today, hundreds of British people are rushing to flee during a temporary ceasefire. It’s been all over the news this morning, but what is actually going on and why is it happening at all?

Here’s everything happening in Sudan right now explained, as simply as we can:

Who is fighting who?

General Abdel Fattah al Burhan has been Sudan’s president since a military coup in 2021. He’s in control of Sudan’s army, who are fighting the country’s paramilitary group the RSF, which used to be part of the military itself until the two organisations fell out.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti is in charge of the RSF and is also deputy leader of Sudan’s current Sovereign Council. The two sides worked together in 2019 to get rid of the country’s former leader Omar al Bashir but have since had huge disagreements about how the country should be run now he’s gone.

These disagreements have resulted in violence and now both sides are battling to take control of key locations across the country including airports and the presidential palace.

Why has conflict started now?

One of the key disagreements between the two sides has been over exactly how the RSF should be reintegrated into the army. Sudan’s president wanted this to happen within two years. But the RSF said it would take ten.

The two sides were supposed to sign a merger agreement by 1 April but, when no resolution could be found, everything was delayed as talks continued. Fighting then broke out at a military base in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum on 15 April and both sides have claimed the other started it.

What is the situation like now?

Over two weeks, fighting between Sudan’s army and the RSF has spread through Khartoum and civilians have said there’s been gunfire in numerous other areas across the country, too. Violence has been particularly bad in the northern city of Merowe and in El Fasher and Nyala, Darfur.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there have been three attacks on healthcare facilities since the violence began. Hundreds of people have been killed and the Red Cross has said this disorder could lead to people in Sudan being unable to access care.

Many countries, including the UK, have started evacuating their diplomats during a negotiated ceasefire but some civilians have said they’re unable to get out of the country due to the ongoing violence and fleeing is expected to continue long after the ceasefire ends.

What might happen next?

So far, between 10,000 and 20,000 have fled from Sudan to Chard, the United Nations has said. Experts, including Cameron Hudson from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies have voiced concerns that as the conflict continues, Sudan’s neighbouring countries could get involved.

“The challenge is that the conflict … is spread on every corner of the country – on the border with Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ethiopia,” he told Al Jazeera.

Other experts believe more of Sudan’s civilians could get involved with the fighting, leading to a civil war, the longer violence continues. And, although the leaders of both the Sudanese military and the RSF have said they’re open to negotiations, neither seem prepared to back down.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘Don’t forget about us’ Ukrainian students on the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion 

How the cost of living crisis is secretly fuelling an eating disorder epidemic