"We left Madani and we moved from village to village for 13 days until we reached Kassala.”: Testimonies from Gedaref and Kassala

 Mobile Clinics in Wad Madani, Sudan, June 2023
25 Jan 2024
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Testimonies of people displaced from Wad Madani, following heavy fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that began December 15. As internally displaced people (IDPs), they have sought refuge in gathering points in Gedaref and Kassala. They were interviewed by MSF staff during the first week of January 2024. All testimonies are anonymous for protection reasons. 


Testimony 1 (TTY 7-SUD)- IDP gathering site, Al Mufaza locality, Gedaref; Mother; father; injured child; infant.


We are originally from Darfur, but because of the violent clashes and the crisis over there, we went to Khartoum. But the war followed us up to Khartoum, so we went to Madani. And then, the story continues.

A husband and wife and their son arrived in, Al Mufaza, Gedaref, from Wad Madani two weeks ago, just after the fighting erupted in the city. The family have been displaced multiple times, previously from Khartoum, where they had started a new life after fleeing Darfur three years ago.

They fled Khartoum eight months ago, after their house was hit, and severely injured one of their  son. The man recalls the ordeal he and his family have gone through during these last months of violence, displacement and lack of access to urgent care for his child.

“My family and I are originally from Darfur, but because of the violent clashes and the crisis over there, we went to Khartoum, becoming internally displaced people. But the war followed us up to Khartoum, so we went to (Wad) Madani. And then, the story continues.

We were living in Khartoum when the shelling hit our house in the middle of the night. We were six people in the house, and at that time my wife was nine months pregnant. Our house was destroyed. I was hit on my arm, but my child got a much worse injury on his head. We managed to bring him to the hospital in Khartoum because he needed an urgent lifesaving surgery. But as soon as he was discharged, we had to flee Khartoum because of insecurity. We’ve arrived in the internally displaced camp in Wad Madani, and she delivered there.

The journey from Khartoum to Wad Madani was an odyssey. He and his family walked for some time, holding hands, the husband carrying their severely injured son and she being nine months pregnant. Eventually they managed to take public transport, using some savings her older son had with him. As soon as they arrived in Wad Madani, they had to go to the hospital, because her little son was in terrible pain. After being discharged, they moved to the IDP camp of the city, where most people fleeing Khartoum where gathering. They spent eight months there in dire living conditions, the husband recounts:

“The situation in the IDP camps was really difficult. It was crowded, with no water and sometimes no electricity. And this becomes even harder when you have a pregnant wife and an injured child to take care of. At that moment, my son wasn’t even able to walk by himself. And he was scared by the sounds of shootings. At that time, it was difficult for me to provide even for the basic things for my family. (…) When my wife delivered, she had a serious postpartum bleeding and she lost a huge amount of blood, enough to fill a bucket. She collapsed. Luckily, she received support from medical organizations present in Wad Madani at that time and was assisted during and after the delivery. “

By mid-December 2023, heavy fighting between SAF and RSF started in Wad Madani, ending with the takeover of the city from RSF. Together with more than half million people, he and his family fled once again, looking for a safer place to go. Clashes started and we started hearing sounds of fires and those armed men fighting again. Immediately we decided to leave. I started thinking where we should go now? Nowhere was safe at that time. We decided to come to here and a friend informed me there were medical services available. My only concern is to have access to complete medical services for my child. He needs to undergo another surgery but we didn’t manage because the war started in Madani. This is why we are here. “



Testimony 2 (TTY 8- IDP/SUD) – Tanedba hospital: Father with his child diagnosed with malnutrition.


Civilians are the only people who are suffering”

The healthcare system in Sudan was already overwhelmed, now it is under tremendous pressure. The collapse of the healthcare insurance system last year means that people have to bear the full cost of medication, which is increasingly more expensive due to soaring inflation and limited supply. The heightened insecurity and increased displacement have further reduced people’s access to critical medical support, exacerbating the overwhelming challenges faced by the healthcare system.

Tanedba continues to witness a gradual increase in population as displaced people including families continue to seek refuge here and it remains one of the few places in the state where free basic healthcare is provided. In Tanedba hospital, a father who brought his son to seek urgent healthcare, shares his story. When the conflict broke out in Khartoum last year, his family urgently relocated to his birth village in Gedaref, but the man stayed to protect their property. The situation was extremely tense and insecure, with shelling and risk of looting in the area. It was not possible to find work and difficult getting food. In the end, he made the decision to come back to Gedaref, where he owns some farmland and could make a living to support his family.

The situation was tense. You would find everything closed, few people in the streets. It was very difficult to have food sometimes, which is why you needed to store it as much as possible. The main problem wasn’t only security, but that you couldn’t find any work. If you wanted to stay safe, you had to stay at your home. Not going anywhere. That was the main challenge. I knew it was dangerous, but initially I had decided to stay in Khartoum, to protect my house. Looting is frequent in those places, so I  decided to stay and protect my properties and my house. I knew that in fact, if something happened or people came to the house, I couldn’t protect myself or my house. But I decided to stay anyway, just to believe I did my best to protect my house. (..) In Karari most of the shelling hit innocent civilians. Civilians are the only people who are suffering.

“Two weeks ago, my child started having diarrhoea and vomiting. After three days of being sick, I took him to one of the clinics in Village 36, where almost four thousand people are living. He received medications, but he didn’t improve. Some people in the community advised me to go to Tanedba because they have good doctors there, and everyone who goes there, their conditions are improving.

In my village we only have basic healthcare, and now this has become difficult. In the past, in case of complications we used to go to Al Fao hospital (Wad Madani), but now there is no place to go. Since the conflict started in Madani, some of medical services in Al Fao hospital were not available.



Testimony 3 (TTY 9 IDP) -  School gathering point, Kassala: Woman with her children.


We stayed for two months in Omdurman. When we went out of the house we saw dead bodies on the street, it was very difficult.”


“I arrived in Kassala with my brother and three children. When the conflict started, I was in Omdurman, intense bombing, lasting hours at times, forced us to hide under beds for safety. The situation became unbearable, leading us to the decision to leave with my brother, while my husband sought a way to join us. We stayed for two months in Omdurman. When we went out of the house we saw dead bodies on the street, it was very difficult. 

In the house in Omdurman, we had no electricity and water got cut. It was difficult to go out and buy things. All the shops were closed, all the food finished, and we were not allowed by RSF to go out.

The only time we went out of the house after the start of the conflict was during the ceasefire. At the beginning the RSF were ok and nicer, but after some time, they started to investigate people and started to beat a lot of people. We were not able to take cars out to move, so we had to walk for eight hours to get to a village near Jebel Aulia.

We then moved to Wad Madani. The transport cost was 40,000 SDG per person [approximately $30 US]. We were seven people, we did not have all that money. We managed to negotiate and had to give all our money to be able to reach Wad Madani. We did not have any issues on the road. We were threatened once by some men with big knives who were asking for money to open the road, but we had nothing on us. And we were only women and children, I don’t think they were interested in us. Once we arrived in Wad Madani, we settled in one of the gathering site in Hantoub, near the Hantoub bridge and we stayed there for one month.

My husband is still in Omdurman, and not reachable anymore. The children are now suffering a lot from the mosquito bites, lack of food, and sleeping on the floor. Two of my children are now sick. There is no healthcare center around here, the one available does not provide free of charge consultation and medications due to limited resources and we can’t afford the medications and the consultation.“



Testimony 4 (TTY 10 IDP) - school gathering point, Kassala: Mother and daughter.




We left Madani and we moved from village to village for 13 days until we reached Kassala.”

In Kassala state in eastern Sudan, more than 68 IDP gathering sites have been established since the conflict in Wad Madani. People are in dire need of non-food items like soap, blankets,  shelter and also medications especially for those suffering from non-communicable diseases.

Salma, a young doctor, and her mother, Nour, who has experienced multiple displacements, find themselves at the school gathering point in Kassala state, eastern Sudan. They tell their story of leaving home in Khartoum and reaching Wad Madani and the challenging living conditions they face in the gathering points.

“When the conflict broke, it was a full surprise. We did not except it at all. We thought we were safe in our houses and suddenly bombing started. We left Khartoum without anything, unable to carry anything, only clothes, and we had no food and no water with us.”

The journey to Wad Madani took one and a half days due to numerous checkpoints. Upon reaching Wad Madani, we stayed in an apartment with three other families for four months. Later, we were asked to leave as another family was taking our place. We struggled to find another place in Wad Madani so we decided to return to Khartoum.

We heard rumours of an attack and we decided to move back to Wad Madani and stay in one of the gathering sites in the south. When the attack happened, some of the fighting was taken place in the area where we were in and we had to leave – we  lost everything again, we didn’t manage to take anything with us again.

We left Madani, and we moved from village to village for 13 days until we reached Kassala. Every time we were leaving a village, RSF was behind us entering the village. We would move and then start hearing attacks behind us.

When we came out of Khartoum, we were living in Sharg El Neel area, and RSF was looking for medical doctors. When we tried to leave, RSF blocked us and ask me to come with them to serve in the hospital for their soldiers and if I said no, I would be shot in the head. My mother begged the soldier, and they let us go.

On a day I was not working in the primary healthcare center, there were big clashes, they came to the village and took 17 girls from the area and came to the primary healthcare centre and took the two female doctors I was working with. I don’t know what happened to them. They took them by force. I have a friend who stayed in Khartoum and I know they killed her with three bullets in her body.

In Kassala, here now, the problem is food. The community provides two meals per day but there is not enough for all the families here. The food is not adapted also for the small children. There are many health conditions in the gathering sites and people are not able to access care.