“No one wants to leave their home behind, but what can we do?”

30 days of war in Sudan

May 15, 2023
People waiting at the bus station

People waiting at a bus station.

Photo: UNDP Sudan

In the early hours of April 15, Sudanese citizens in Khartoum woke up to the sounds of gunfire. With no knowledge or explanation beyond an “armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces” ensuring safety became an urgent struggle.  

For “Talia” (name changed for safety reasons), a homecoming gathering she had planned for the holy month of Ramadan ended in the worst possible way.  

“I hadn’t been to Sudan or met any of my family for five years. For the first two days [of the fighting], I couldn’t get to my sons they were visiting their cousins only two streets away but there was no way to get to them without being shot. Every time we would get on the floor to shelter, I would think of my two boys and how it must have been for them to hear it too while being away from their mother.” 

Shortly after, electricity and water were cut in most of the city and in a matter of few hours, the conflict had escalated into jet fighters swarming the skies and the sounds of heavy gunfire and artillery which left civilians trapped indoors lacking enough food, water, electricity, and medicine.

After ten days of continuous clashes, like many others in the country, Talia and her family made the difficult decision to leave everything behind and head to Egypt.

“No one wants to leave their home behind but what can we do? Every day we’d wake up to news that a house or building nearby was bombed, what else can we do?” 

It was heart wrenching to leave the home her grandfather, an architect, had built more than 60 years ago.


“My mother got married in the house. All my aunts too, so did my brother and sister. We have so many memories there. It’s all we know, all my aunts, uncles, cousins – we’ve all lived in it at some point in our life. It has never been empty, this is the first time.”


Thirty days later and the war shows no signs of ending. Clashes have spread to Darfur, North Kordofan, and Blue Nile – states which are already weakened by years of devastating conflict and economic instability. Despite announcing various ceasefire agreements, the warring parties continue to fight, leading to an increase in the injuries, displacement and rise in the death toll. At least 604 people have been killed and 5,100 injured. 

According to UNHCR, 334,000 people are estimated to have been internally displaced, and over 100,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.  

The impact of the conflict is being felt deeply in the neighboring countries. Sudan shares its border with Libya, Egypt, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Some, like Egypt, announced open borders.  

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, 73,684 have crossed into Egypt, including 68,698 Sudanese and 4,986 third-country nationals. 

To make their way to Egypt, Talia’s family had to confront skyrocketing bus fares and a shortage of buses and fuel.

“From the first day of the war, ticket prices went up over ten times. Even with these prices, it was hard to find seats. We were almost 30 people, and we couldn’t leave anyone behind.”  


Two women and child walking next to bus and truck in line

Moving about has presented new dangers since fighting erupted in Sudan.

Photo: UNDP Sudan
People waiting at the bus station

Transportation has been a major challenge due to the fighting.

Photo: UNDP Sudan


People in Sudan are living through their worst humanitarian crisis in decades. The conflict is causing massive displacement which is predicted to increase.  

UNDP’s team and partners, collectively with other UN agencies, is continuing to support the recovery of essential basic services critical medical care, energy and water. 

Demand for water, food and medical care at the borders is rising every day. The UN is working with countries to assist more people who are crossing the border. 

For Talia’s family the decision to leave involved a 32 hour wait at the Sudanese-Egyptian border. Yet her family considers itself lucky to be ones who not only made it out but made it out quicker than others. 


“I was terrified one of us wouldn’t make it out of the border. We had toddlers and sick elders with us. I lost count of how many women were fainting in front of me. The situation is terrible at the border.”


The fragile situation in the region continues to deteriorate, with essential services in many regions affected and government institutions and humanitarian and development agencies unable to function due to the damage caused by the conflict and mass looting.   

Recovery and reconstruction must begin as soon as humanly possible. The only way forward is to stop the war and bring peace back to Sudan and its people.