Q&A: ‘Bullets and shells are flying everywhere’ in Sudan

Al Jazeera correspondent Hiba Morgan in Khartoum responds to questions about the conflict in Sudan.

This Q&A was originally published on Reddit and has been edited for length and clarity

I am Hiba Morgan and I’ve been on the ground in Sudan’s capital since fighting broke out between two rival Sudanese generals on April 15.

I have been an Al Jazeera reporter for more than eight years, and have been covering Sudan since 2009. My reports come from the middle of the war zone; a city so dangerous that the US is having trouble evacuating Americans. Ask me anything:

Lost_Fun7095: As an Al Jazeera reporter, is the conflict symbolic of deeper flaws and an inability among African nations to unite for a common good?

Hiba Morgan: The conflict is a result of a lack of checks and balances in an institution like the military. The Rapid Support Forces [RSF] was born from the Janjaweed [government-backed militia], which killed and terrorised [people] in Darfur during the years of war. There was no question on how they were recruited, how they carried out their operations, or why were they doing the work of the army. It’s also the result of Western policies when it comes to migration. The West was so focused and determined to keep people out they didn’t care who they have sent their money to, even if it’s a group accused of gross human rights violations like the RSF.

PolemicBender: How do we get the international community to care?

Morgan: The international community needs to view the people fleeing the same way they viewed Ukrainian refugees. Open safe routes for them, provide humanitarian assistance. And their biggest concern is refugees arriving on their shores. This fighting is already creating refugees who won’t stop at neighbouring countries. If that doesn’t get them to care, I don’t know what will.

UnlikelyBicycle1: Are the people at the airport safe? The people waiting to travel home.

Morgan: There are no people at the airport at the moment, at least not the main international airport. The airport that people are evacuating through is in the east, 800km [1,500 miles] away from the capital where the fighting is focused. But there are thousands who remain trapped in Khartoum.

Feck5: Is there any reason to suspect the current ceasefire will hold? Is it holding now?

Morgan: The ceasefires have been described as shaky. I’d say they’ve held in the right places at the right time to get the foreign nationals out. But the fighting never stopped. A hospital was hit on Tuesday when a ceasefire was supposed to be in place. There were air strikes today. So no, the ceasefire on the ground and to people who’ve been cut off from water and electricity and can’t leave their homes to get their basic needs, the ceasefire has not held.

Interactive_Sudan_Darfur Cities Map Revised

9Wind: Countries seem to want to avoid anything to do with the conflict other than a ceasefire to evacuate. Why is this?

Morgan: The reason countries are pushing for a ceasefire rather than negotiations immediately is because neither side has shown readiness to negotiate. The army and the paramilitary commanders were supposed to meet to avoid the military confrontation before it happened, but then it went downhill from there. So many versions of who started with the first shots are circulating, but getting the two sides to sit and talk has been impossible so the focus has been on a ceasefire as a first step.

StudioTwilldee: Are there any social, ideological, or ethnic components to this conflict, or is it entirely a power struggle?

Morgan: In Khartoum, it’s a struggle for power and resources. In Darfur, it’s turning ethnic. The Arabs have been armed to fight Darfuri tribes for two decades and a majority of the RSF are from Arab tribes in Darfur. The recent fighting that has extended there included the burning of homes belonging to ethnic Darfuris, robbing markets and then setting them on fire. All these are reminders of the Darfur war, which was largely an ethnic war.

Slatedtoprone: How are everyday people doing? Does everyone take a side or are they just waiting for the fighting to be over so life can resume without the warfare?

Morgan: People in Sudan have made it clear it’s not their war. It’s a power struggle that will end their dreams of a democratic transition regardless of who the winner is. They’ll have to start demanding justice and democracy from scratch after it took them months to end Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule. Yes, they want this to end, but they don’t want to end their dreams of a different Sudan.

IAstrikeforce: What is the food and water situation like for the people in Khartoum?

Morgan: The situation is bad, there’s no other way to put it. People have been without running water and power for nearly two weeks now. They’ve not been able to access banks, market prices are increasing day by day, and commodities are running out. Hospitals have been bombed. Access to healthcare has been so hard to get that patients with renal failure or diabetes are dying.

m64: Is this just a power struggle between the generals, or is there some deeper ideological conflict behind this? What do you think would be the best ending to this situation?

Morgan: It’s an internal conflict fuelled by regional and international interests. Both sides want to control Sudan’s resources and there are countries that have access to these resources now. There is no clear evidence that they’re directly involved, but they’ve been supporting and funding both sides in different capacities before the conflict. When the conflict started, both sides were ready with weapons and soldiers.

Piggywonkle: Was the rivalry of the generals evident in any way before the conflict broke out this month? Are there any other sizable factions involved, or has everybody mostly rallied around one or the other?

Morgan: Yes, the warning signs the conflict was brewing were there. The movement of troops from the RSF side, the walls built around the general command of the army, and the statements from both sides that contradicted each other. Both allied to overthrow a civilian government but it didn’t go as they planned because they weren’t able to form a new government to replace it, and the international community cut donor money. It was only a question of when, not if, this would happen.

Source: Al Jazeera