“If I die, please forgive me”

Peril in Camps as Refugee Numbers Surge and Resources Run Out

Rebel militia burst into Fatna’s home in Sudan’s capital city, seizing the 43 year-old mother and her teenage daughter. It was just days since the fighting had broken out in Khartoum. Desperate to save them, her husband, a retired soldier, offered to join their ranks instead. “Leave them alone and take me,” he said. “I was a soldier and I can fight.”

Wiping tears with her scarf, Fatna recalls how she regained consciousness to find both her husband and 22 year-old son had been taken. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.” Terrified, she led her youngest son, 15 year-old Mustafa, and his sister, through countless checkpoints to the border.

Thousands of families have become separated or lost loved ones while trying to escape the brutal violence.

But conditions at the refugee camp were squalid and sparse. As humanitarian assistance dwindled, Mustafa told his mother he was returning to Sudan, certain he would die if he remained there. Tragically, he crossed back into his country only to be captured by the paramilitary group fighting the Sudanese army. 

One night Fatna received an unexpected phone call from Mustafa. He spoke in whispers so his captors wouldn’t hear. He told his mother, “Mum, I’ve been taken to fight. If I die, please forgive me for coming back.” It was the last Fatna heard from her son.

Since April of last year when war broke out in Sudan, refugees have flooded the nation of South Sudan to save their lives and families from the brutal violence.

Refugee Crisis at a Glance

Over 10 million displaced from Sudan to date

Over 500,000 have fled to South Sudan

1,500 refugees arrive in South Sudan every day

South Sudan already faces a crisis level food shortage

Massive Displacement

According to reports, Sudan’s war has displaced 9 million people in the country. Another 1.7 million escaped to neighboring countries like South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Chad. In total, over 10 million people have been forced to flee the brutal conflict.

As their numbers continue to grow, it has become “the largest war-related displacement crisis in the world, surpassing even Ukraine and Syria.

The refugees arrive in desperate condition. “Many of the thousands from Sudan are vulnerable and traumatized. They fled terrible violence and have spent weeks – in some cases months – trying to cross into South Sudan to reach safety. “The conditions they describe are completely horrific. Some say they fled violence and bullets, spending several days in the bush trying to reach the border. Others say they experienced sexual violence along the journey.”

Overwhelmed camps urgently need help providing basics like food, water, and shelter in the massive refugee crisis.

Dismal Conditions

What they arrive to in the transit camps provides little improvement except for relief from being trapped in the immediate war zone. According to a UN Migration Agency at a border camp in Renk, “There’s hardly any water, food, sanitation, security or shelter. There is no infrastructure, no medical facilities or resources for the vulnerable arrivals.”

With more than half a million refugees in dire condition pouring in, South Sudan teeters under severe food insecurity and lack of resources to meet an overwhelming need.

Some 25 million people, more than half of Sudan’s population, need humanitarian assistance, while an estimated 3.8 million children under the age of five are already suffering from malnutrition, the UN says.

“There are massive concerns about the risk of disease, hunger, and further violence,” says a UN agency.


Reports say some refugees continue to suffer human rights violations. Sources report terrorists attacking the outer border of camps to forcibly steal recruits for the war. Conditions in some places are so dire that some who fled Sudan have tried to return. Like Mustafa, many are captured and pressed into combat.

It’s a grueling wait as displaced mothers, children, and elderly pine in overcrowded camps, awaiting news from relatives or transportation on to other locations. Iman David fled the fighting in Khartoum with her then three-month-old baby girl. She was forced to leave her husband behind in her struggle to reach safety. 

Millions have been forced to leave everything. Over a thousand more arrive every day.

“It was supposed to be a short stay,” the 20 year-old mother lamented. “But I am still here after seven months.” She shared her fragile hope that one day soon she could return home to reunite with her husband. But Iman doesn’t know if he has even survived the warfare still raging in their city.

Tremendous Humanitarian Need

The world mustn’t look away from the tragedy unfolding. Already funding to help refugees in this massive humanitarian crisis has been eclipsed by the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

Meanwhile thousands of traumatized victims continue to pour into South Sudan to escape a horrific conflict that has displaced millions. Camps are helpless to keep up with the sheer numbers arriving daily.

Malnutrition and disease remain looming threats. There is not enough food, clean water, sanitation or medical care to meet the massive need.

From the beginning of this crisis, Sudan Relief Fund has been positioned on the frontlines of the aid effort. Your partnership has provided relief supplies and supported rescue efforts near the border at places like Malakal, South Sudan. We’re providing tangible help to famished, traumatized people who have endured incredible suffering and have often traveled days to reach safety.

But the magnitude of the crisis is immense. More help is needed to reach the masses of people in dire need of aid. And those still coming.

Unaccompanied children mourn parents who were taken or killed in the perilous attempt to reach the border.

Your gift will help send food, clean water, hygiene supplies and medicine that will save lives. Through the years we’ve distributed shipments of emergency supplies that make all the difference to struggling, exhausted refugees. Together we can make an impact for suffering people.

Please don’t look away. Months ago these families were living their lives in the cities and towns of Sudan. Iman was enjoying being a new mother to her brand new baby girl. Fatna was working as a laundress to pay for English lessons that she dreamed would help her raise her income. Now their lives have been shattered. 

Please send help today to provide lifesaving aid and hope for devastated people. Now they only hope to survive.

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Neil A. Corkery


Neil A. Corkery President

PS – The number of broken families devastated by this crisis is staggering. There is an incredible need for help. Please partner with us to give desperate people food, water, and the will to survive.

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