More than eight million Sudanese have been displaced: Photo/Reuters

By Abdulwasiu Hassan

Reminiscences of the life he used to lead remain Tijjani Musa's only possessions.

He wistfully recalls the warmth of his home, the joy of dining-table conversations, and all the other simple pleasures of his everyday existence.

That was before April 15, 2023. Now, as the echoes of war reverberate through deserted homes and hollowed dreams across Sudan, all that is left to be destroyed is the fortitude of millions of civilians who have braved unprecedented suffering for a year.

"Before the fighting started, we had access to everything we wanted. We had a house and a car. There was water, food, and medicines. We could go wherever we wanted. We could communicate with whoever we wanted to," Tijjani tells TRT Afrika.

He and his family lived in the Ombada neighbourhood of Omdurman until the war between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces not only forced them out of their community but also left them scattered.

They are among nearly nine million displaced Sudanese waiting for a sliver of hope to filter through the darkness. Close to two million have moved to neighbouring countries.

Sudan is a Muslim-majority country and the displaced observed Ramadan amid war. Photo/GettyImages

According to various estimates, over 12,000 other civilians have been killed in the crossfire over the past year.

"We are now living outside Ombada in an area known as Sijnilhuda, which is like a prison," rues Tijjani.

"A year since the war broke out, we have survived but continue to face problems getting even basic necessities. There is no peace in our lives."

The pocket where Tijjani and many others sought refuge is guarded by the military, which supposedly makes the area relatively more secure than living in Ombada.

"In our neighbourhood, you could get beaten and mugged. We have taken a break from beatings, sounds of gunshots, and fear of being attacked," he explains.

Scattered families

Although the relative safety of Sijnilhuda offers him a respite from the constant fear of attacks, Tijjani still has to cope with not seeing some of his loved ones.

About two million people fled to neighbouring countries - many of them to Chad. Photo/Reuters

"Given the inadequacy of living conditions here, some of my children have gone to Egypt and Libya," he tells TRT Afrika.

Communicating regularly with them is a challenge since Sudan's telecommunication industry has taken a battering in the ongoing war.

Since the fighting started, the warring sides have used forced Internet shutdowns as a weapon to stop information flow in areas controlled by either.

Access Now, an organisation that seeks to safeguard the digital rights of people at risk, sees these acts as tantamount to denying citizens potentially lifesaving information.

Amnesty International, too, has called for an end to telecom service disruptions in the war-torn country, saying such action is hindering humanitarian efforts.

"This blackout is affecting already vulnerable populations who have had to endure conflict for close to a year," Amnesty International quoted Sarah Jackson, the group's deputy regional director for East and Southern Africa, as saying in March.

"Without communication, humanitarian operations and emergency services are likely to grind to a complete halt, putting millions of lives at risk," he said.

Like Tijjani, fellow Sudanese Yaasir Ibrahim sees his inability to connect with family members and relatives living far away as the unkindest cut in a year of unceasing torment.

"Things have come to such a pass that if someone wants to send a message to a loved one living far away, the only way out is to write a note and send it with someone to a place where telecom services are available," he says.

Pulling more apart

As the humanitarian situation in the North African nation turns increasingly dire, the focus is on stepping up efforts to aid displaced civilians within and abroad.

Many Sudanese are nostalgic about pre-war life. Photo/GettyImages

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, fears the worsening humanitarian crisis could drive desperate Sudanese beyond the neighbouring countries where they initially sought refuge.

"We know very well of criminals that want to take advantage of the misery of refugees and displaced and help them move on at a cost beyond North Africa, or towards Europe," he says.

Families like the Musa’s hope the war doesn't linger long enough for them to consider desperate moves that could pull them further apart.

"All we want is to return to the life of security, togetherness, and peace we led just over a year ago," says Tijjani.

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TRT Afrika