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Kramatorsk Or Khartoum? How Sudan’s War Victims Fade Into Oblivion

Why is the admirable funding for Ukraine not matched in Sudan, which now counts a stunning 2.5 million displaced people since fighting erupted two months ago? The West's double standard of media attention must not be left to fester.

Warehouse on fire.

Al-Shajara warehouse on fire in the south of Khartoum.

Sudan Plus News via Twitter
Pierre Haski


PARIS — It’s a question that is particularly timely today, but was there well before the war in Ukraine: why is the international media agenda solely dictated by the West? We know, of course, that this is bound to mean scant attention dedicated to the so-called "Global South."

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Case in point, a Nigerian commentator on Twitter noted on Wednesday that the war between military leaders in Sudan was no longer making the front pages of Western newspapers: "Ukraine is their priority - their people, their story. There's no such thing as "global media", everyone must tell their own story."

In an ideal world, yes, we’d be shocked by the victims of the Russian missile strike on the pizzeria in Kramatorsk, Ukraine ; but also just as interested in the fate of the millions of Sudanese fleeing the brutal war being waged by two of their country’s military leaders, with no regard for human lives.

Reality is less generous.

For this reason, I've decided to relay here the numbers given by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regarding Sudan. When I read them, I was shocked at the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe that virtually never makes it onto our radar.

Democracy crushed

The clashes began last April in Khartoum, Sudan’s vast capital, pitting the loyal troops of Chief of Staff, General Al-Burhan, against the leader of a paramilitary militia, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemeti. It’s a merciless fight for power between two men whose commonality is having crushed the hopes of a democratic revolution in Sudan.

Most of these countries already have their own problems.

In just over two months, the UNHCR’s assessment is grim: 2.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting in the Darfur and Kordofan regions. 560,000 of them have taken refuge in neighboring countries: Egypt, Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Most of these countries already have their own problems, like Ethiopia, which is struggling to emerge from an atrocious war in the Tigray province and has its own humanitarian issues.

Fleeing combat zones is no simple matter: according to the UNHCR, many displaced people and refugees risk their lives as they try to seek safety within or beyond their country’s borders.

A protester waves a Sudanese flag during a demonstration.

Protesters gathered in Whitehall calling for an end to the war in Sudan, April 29, 2023, London, United Kingdom.

Vuk Valcic via ZUMA

The UN's humanitarian plan for Sudan is only funded at less than 20% of its needs. And this is where information, or lack thereof, becomes a factor. There’s no shortage of money for Ukraine, but an invisible conflict like Sudan's suffers a double penalty.

This is obviously short-sighted, since today’s unassisted refugees will want to try their luck on the immigration road, and will become tomorrow's political problem.

The world is in such turmoil that the United Nations is struggling to carry out their humanitarian work, and is hindered in its attempt to bring back peace to these war zones. Attempts at mediation have all failed. Yet this is where all solutions lie.

What the victims of Kramatorsk and Khartoum have in common is the barbaric regression of our current world ; the difference is that the former rightly make the headlines, while the latter are unjustly ignored.

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What It Means To Be A Journalist In Gaza

Journalist Noor Swirki writes about what its like for Palestinian journalists working from Gaza, with everything on the line, every night and day.

Photo of relatives carry the bodies of Palestinian journalists killed during an airstrike

Relatives carry the bodies of Palestinian journalists Muhammad Sobh and Saeed Al-Taweel

Noor Swirki

KHAN YOUNIS — On the morning of the 20th day of war, I received a call from my husband, Salem, a journalist who has been covering this war since its very first moments. He asked me to delay coming to our makeshift workplace; we are both reporters, and we have been camping at the Nasser Medical Complex. An Israeli air strike had targeted the area behind the medical complex, causing massive destruction, claiming lives and injuring many.

Two hours later, he showed up in his press vest, stricken, barely able to speak, and sticky with sweat and debris. He described to me how the place had been crawling with ambulances and civilian cars transporting the injured, while others still carried dead bodies and the remains of their children and family members wrapped in blankets. “I’m tired. We saw the rockets come towards us. We counted them. When will this end?”

Salem and I are but two among many. In the press tent, dozens of journalists converge to perform their duties. Salem spends the night there, while I make a daily trek to our workplace at noon. Before the sun has set, we depart towards the safe house, where I will spend the night with our two children.

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