More civilian deaths, louder calls for dialogue in Sudan

The higher education community in Sudan, including several universities, their academics and students, has taken a stand as part of a pro-democracy movement to call for an end to the war in the country and for humanitarian support for citizens affected by the military clashes between the national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, that erupted on 15 April.

The death toll in Sudan stands at about 420, including about 260 civilians.

In a joint statement signed by 35 pro-democracy organisations, they say: “We agree to work to stop the war immediately, silence the sound of guns, and provide urgent humanitarian, health, service and environmental needs for citizens and affected areas.

“We also agree to work to remove the military from economic and political life, work military reform that leads to a unified professional army as well as restore the democratic civil transitional process.

“We also agree on working to confront biased rhetoric on ethnic, tribal, regional or religious grounds, resisting hate speech and promoting the values of common citizenship and peaceful coexistence.

“A coordination mechanism that includes representatives of all the signatory parties will be formed in order to achieve these goals through all available peaceful means.”

The group consists of the University of Khartoum, the Al-Neelain University Teaching Staff Trade Union, the University of Nyala teaching staff association, the University of Khartoum alumni conference, the Khartoum University engineering association, the Alliance of Professors of Universities of Science and Technology, the Alliance of Professionals and Professors of Imam al-Mahdi University, the Democratic Association of Sudanese Universities and Higher Institutes’ Professors, the Alliance of Student Movements, the Forces for Freedom and Change, an overarching alliance of activists and opposition groups, including university staff, and the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, an umbrella group of independent professional unions, including doctors, engineers, teachers and lawyers, as well as the Association of Sudanese Professors at Universities, Faculties and Higher Institutes.


The higher education community, as a part of civil society, has continued to report the deaths of staff and students as a result of the conflict.

The Sudan Doctors Trade Union (CSDTU) announced that Dr Adam Al-Douma Al-Tayyar was killed in fighting in the city of El Geneina.

He is the former dean of the faculty of medicine at El-Geneina University and, at the time of his death, he was a consultant in diagnostic radiology and ultrasound.

Al Fashir University announced the death of Mohja Ahmed, a dentistry student after a shell fell on her house.

In another incident, the University Of Zalingei’s faculty complex in the Al-Hamidiyah neighbourhood has been damaged as a result of the current military clashes in Sudan, according to a statement issued by the university.

Sudan University of Science and Technology (SUST) announced the death of Musab Abd El-Samea Khair, a student at the faculty of commercial studies and Mohamed Salah Al-Din Mohamed Hasib, as a result of the recent military clashes.

SUST indicated that the residence of the university’s professors was hit by shelling, but no injuries were reported.

Another casualty was 23-year-old Saber Nasr El-Din, an Egyptian student from Assiute governorate who was studying dentistry at the private Sudan International University in Khartoum. A diabetic, Nasr El-Din was unable to obtain an insulin dose at a pharmacy or hospital.

A hashtag, #Transferring the body of Saber Nasr Al-Din to Egypt, called upon the Egyptian government to help with his burial in his homeland but, on 24 April, after efforts to secure a safe passage to Egypt failed, he was buried in Sudan.

Mahmoud Atef Mahmoud Tantawy, a fourth-year dentistry student at Nile University in Sudan, was paralysed after he was hit by shrapnel in his back. A video clip shows students at a hospital in Sudan.

Out of 79 hospitals in the capital, Khartoum, and the states adjacent to the areas of armed conflict, 55 hospitals have suspended their services (69% of Sudanese hospitals are out of service), including most of the teaching hospitals, according to a 24 April field report issued by a committee of the CSDTU.

The CSDTU also issued a statement on 24 April saying that Dr Muhammad Al-Hadi Issa Obaid, a graduate of the faculty of medicine at Al Fashir University, has been missing since 20 April.

In addition, CSDTU announced on 25 April that Dr Bushra Ibn Auf, an internal medicine and gastroenterology consultant at the University of Khartoum, died after a stabbing attack that is related to the deteriorating security and safety situation in the country, which, in turn is emanating from the war.

Also, Al-Neelain University issued a statement on 23 April announcing the death of Dr Hassan Hamad Abu Al-Hassan, a staff member of the faculty of science and technology, in a traffic accident on Khartoum road, also believed to be related to the instability.

Evacuation of international students

In the meantime, several countries are continuing to evacuate their nationals from Sudan. Students from Egypt, Nigeria, Chad, South Sudan and Somalia have been caught up in the midst of hostilities in Khartoum.

Jesusegun Alagbe reports from Nigeria that many of the country’s students who were evacuated from Sudan are unsure of what the future holds for them at home.

“After many days of being trapped in Khartoum, without food and water, we are finally heading to Egypt via road, where we will be flown to Nigeria. At home, I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Ibrahim Muhammed, an IT student at El-Razi University, told University World News telephonically.

Nigeria, on 26 April, commenced the evacuation of its nationals, including more than 3,000 students – deploying 40 coaches to move them from Khartoum to Egypt, from where they will be flown to the Nigerian capital Abuja.

A 72-hour ceasefire, which took hold at midnight on 24 April, has enabled the evacuation of foreign nationals from the country, although there are still reports of street battles.

Fatima Mohammed, a second-year student of biochemistry at the International University of Africa in Khartoum, said she has had sleepless nights since the conflict began, saying the “sights of corpses” and “thoughts of the future” had brought her to tears.

“I left Nigeria to study in Sudan because I had senior friends who schooled in the country before. I was hoping I would finish schooling here without any disruption, but the events of the past days mean I am no longer sure what the future holds for me and other Nigerians here. When we get to our home country, what happens next?” Mohammed, who is from Kano, in north-western Nigeria, asked rhetorically.

If the war is not protracted, Azeez Musa, another Nigerian studying chemical engineering at Al Neelain University in Khartoum, told University World News he would be happy to return to the country to complete his studies.

“I’m a third-year student and I hope to return soon. I am only afraid of the next step to take should the war linger. Looking at the situation in Ukraine, where the war has lasted longer than expected, no one can say when the war [in Sudan] will end. That’s my fear,” Musa said.

Nigerian authorities have said the first batch of evacuees will arrive in Abuja on April 27 amid calls by some groups on the federal government to intensify the rescue efforts and ensure no Nigerian life is lost.

Francis Kokutse reports from Ghana that 73 of the country’s students, caught up in the armed uprising in Sudan, were identified to be evacuated.

Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, Ghana’s deputy minister of foreign affairs and regional integration, made the announcement on 23 April.

Another three students, who are footballers, have also been identified for evacuation, the ministry said in a statement.

Ghana’s foreign ministry said the evacuation is being coordinated by its embassy in Egypt, which has concurrent accreditation with Sudan, the ministry of foreign affairs and regional integration said. This means Ghana’s embassy in Egypt is responsible for Ghana’s diplomatic links with Sudan.

Ghana’s honorary consul in Khartoum has said in a report: “All our nationals are safe.”

The International Student Welfare Organisation (FSWO) in Sudan issued a statement at the start of the conflict in which it called on foreign students to keep identification papers at hand, be cautious and not roam in the centre of Khartoum capital, especially at night, “where incidents of looting and theft abound, and sometimes they are at gunpoint”.

FSWO is an official non-governmental organisation which serves about 27,000 foreign students from 91 countries in the Sudanese higher education sector.

International academic community

Peter Kodjie, the secretary general of the All Africa Students Union (AASU) issued a statement on 21 April to say: “We call upon all political leaders and stakeholders to put the interests of the people of Sudan at the forefront and work towards a peaceful and democratic resolution to the current situation. We encourage all parties to engage in constructive dialogue, respect the rule of law, and uphold human rights.”

Education International (EI) issued a statement on 19 April calling for the protection of students, teachers and education facilities.

EI is a global union federation that brings together 383 teachers’ organisations representing about 32 million teachers and education support personnel in 178 countries and territories.

“EI strongly advocates for the right to education and condemns any actions that jeopardise this fundamental human right.

“The ongoing fighting in Sudan has resulted in restricted movement and disrupted access to education, which is crucial for the country’s stability and development,” according to the statement.

EI calls on all parties to ensure that education facilities are protected and that students and teachers are able to safely resume their learning process.

EI has condemned the fighting and urged the warring sides to immediately cease hostilities, restore calm and begin a dialogue to resolve the crisis.

This news report was updated on 1 May.