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Hopes of local Christians crushed in Sudan conflict

Rival forces battling in Sudan means one thing for local Christians: there's a good chance that their basic human rights and safety will be violated.

The conflict broke out on Holy Saturday, between the Sudanese military, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – best known as General Hemedti. 

Al-Burhan accused Hemedti, who had been his deputy since a 2021 coup, of planning to subjugate him. They both took part in overthrowing dictator Omar Bashir in 2019. 

The UN declared the situation “catastrophic”, after losing three World Food Programme employees and numerous local civilians in the conflict. According to the Red Cross it is impossible to deliver any emergency aid to the vicinity of the capital. Doctors said that most hospitals had gone out of service.

The rivals violated a previously agreed 72-hour ceasefire. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan rejected all possibilities of reaching a consensus with the RSF. Finally they both accepted a humanitarian 72-hour ceasefire agreement during Eid-al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

Sudan has a Muslim majority of 90%, Christians make up only 5% of the population. During the regime of extremist Omar Bashir, Christians were severely persecuted. Following the 2019 coup things seemed to improve a little: genital mutilation of girls and the prohibition of conversion from Islam to other religions were abolished. 

Fikiru Mehari, the operations leader of Open Doors – a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in the world -, said it would be hard to predict what the outcome for Christians could be. There are Bashir-sympathizers in both militant groups. Mehari believes the country would benefit from a civil government instead of power-hungry military units.

The cathedral in Khartoum suffered a raid, as well. Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo contacted Bishop Nick Baines from Leeds to say the cathedral had been attacked and their cars had been destroyed using firearms. 

“There is a lot of fear ” said Baines “The large Sudanese community in our churches here is fearful. At the moment, we pray hard and keep in touch”. 

On 16 April Pope Francis implored people to pray for Christians in Sudan. The Pope invoked “arms may be laid down and that dialogue may prevail, so that together, they are able to return to the path of peace and concord”.


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