Sudan is a country in Northeast Africa, bordered by the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, South Sudan, and the Red Sea. It has a population of almost 46 million people and is Africa’s third-largest country. The Salesians of Don Bosco have 3 presences in Sudan: a) St Joseph Vocational Training Centre in the capital city, Khartoum, with over 500 students; b) St Joseph Parish in Kalakala, situated about 27km south of Khartoum, and c) Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre in El Obeid, in southern Sudan, which has over 400 students. Our mission caters for poor and vulnerable Christians and many Muslims too.  We empower them in vocational training and in both primary and secondary education. We also have pastoral ministry for more than 10,000 Christians from South Sudan who have come to Sudan for job opportunities.

On Saturday 15 April, a working day for the St Joseph Vocational Training Centre (VTC), everyone was astonished when shooting and heavy gunfire began to be heard in Khartoum. The students and staff were immediately sent home, though some only managed to go home the next day.

The conflict is between the (SAF) Sudan Armed Force, led by the current president Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and (RSF) Rapid Support Force, a paramilitary force led by commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, both of whom were allies until recently. They had worked together to oust Sudanese ex-president Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and played an important role in the military coup in 2021. Tensions arose during the negotiations to integrate the RSF into the country’s military as part of the plans to restore civilian rule. The dilemma was who would be subordinate to whom under the new hierarchy. Thus started a struggle of dominance that has matured into a full-scale war between the two sides. Where and when this fighting will end is very unclear. Both groups are well-armed and have experienced fighters.

The conflict has led to major destruction and great loss of life. Nearly 5,000 people have been killed, and more than 4.6 million people have had to flee their homes. Many of those who have been displaced are leaving the country as refugees to Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. The suffering Sudanese people pray that good sense may prevail on the two warring sides so that the long-awaited aspiration of theirs for a lasting peace and security may prompt the leaders of the warring sides to negotiate for an end to their hostilities and pave a path for lasting peace in the country.

The current situation is truly dire, with millions of people in need of urgent assistance. The civil war has caused widespread destruction, displacement, and loss of life, leaving many people without access to basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, and medical care. Shops are closed, and there is no food, water, medicine, or electricity. Houses are broken and burnt. Most of our staffs, students and parishioners are struggling for basic needs like food, water, shelter, and medicine. We, the Salesians of Don Bosco, need your support to help the poor and vulnerable people of Sudan at this critical moment.  We hope to provide help for them in the following ways:

  1. Food assistance: We will provide emergency food aid to those who are suffering from severe malnutrition and food insecurity. This will include the distribution of food parcels, hot meals, and food vouchers.
  2. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH): We will provide access to clean water and sanitation facilities to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases. We will also promote good hygiene practices through community education and awareness campaigns.
  3. Shelter and non-food items: We will provide emergency shelter and essential items such as blankets, clothing, and cooking utensils to those who have been displaced from their homes.
  4. Healthcare: We will support the provision of essential medical care, including vaccinations, maternal and child health services, and treatment for common illnesses and injuries.
  5. Protection: We will work to protect the most vulnerable populations, including women and children, from violence, exploitation, and abuse. This will include the provision of psychosocial support services and the establishment of safe spaces for women and children.
  6. Transportation: We will support people who have come from South Sudan to Sudan but are now forced to return to their homeland because of war. We will provide for their basic needs like food and shelter and help them to find job opportunities when they return to their homeland.

Can you help us to make all this possible? With your support, we could make a huge difference in the lives of the people in Sudan at this time of great need.

Fr Joseph Can SDB