April 24, 2024

Common Wealth Geography

Exploring the World

Amid Unrelenting Conflict, Sudan’s Capital Grapples with Unburied Bodies

In a distressing turn of events, the prolonged and violent clashes spanning nearly four months between the Sudanese Army and the formidable paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have thrust the city of Khartoum into a harrowing situation. This conflict has rendered the traditional practice of funerals nearly impossible, leaving the capital marred by a gruesome accumulation of unburied bodies.A somber and unforeseen ceremony unfolded as the lifeless body of Sadig Abbas was hastily interred in an unmarked, shallow grave in Khartoum at dawn. Even the few individuals who managed to attend the funeral were burdened by the looming threat of incoming fire, causing their attention to waver. Awad el-Zubeer, a neighbor of the deceased, recollected the tense atmosphere that prevailed.

The relentless street battles between the Sudanese Army and the RSF have unleashed chaos upon Khartoum. This turbulence has led to a distressing situation where corpses now lie abandoned on the streets, a consequence of a conflict that exhibits minimal signs of abating.El-Zubeer, grappling with the grim reality, admitted, “Given these circumstances, if you asked me exactly where his body was buried, I couldn’t tell you.”Accurate data concerning the casualties remains limited. Although the country’s health minister, Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim, disclosed in June that the conflict had claimed the lives of over 3,000 individuals, there have been no updates since. However, local doctors and activists assert that the actual toll is substantially higher.Similarly, there is no official count for the number of unburied bodies. Reports have surfaced regarding mass graves and widespread ethnically-motivated killings in the southern Darfur region.

Sudan’s capital, once a tranquil city, has transformed into an urban battleground, leading to the tragic deaths of many civilians caught in the crossfire. According to the country’s doctors union, some succumbed to their injuries due to the lack of access to essential medical care, while others tragically starved as they remained trapped amidst the gun battles that raged outside.In times of peace, funerals would have been elaborate ceremonies, spanning days. Sudanese tradition involves the washing and blessing of corpses before interment in cemetery graves, often dug by family members. However, the conflict between the top generals, army head Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, has shattered this customary practice, as recounted by seven former and current residents of the capital area.