GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Sudanese community in West Michigan is watching the conflict in the country closely and calling for peace.
Dr. Mohamed Ali Mohamad and Ahmed Abbas Abuzaid live in the Grand Rapids area but still have family and friends in Sudan.
“The situation is very undescribable. It’s really, it’s very scary. We talk to our direct family members … including my mother, every single day,” Abuzaid said.
Abuzaid is member of the Grand Rapids-based group A Glimpse of Africa, which has been monitoring the situation.
Two military factions that currently hold control in Sudan recently started fighting.
“We have the national army, Sudanese National Army, and then we have a paramilitary forces, which is called the Rapids Support Forces, which is initially was actually a militia,” Mohamad explained.
The expectation was the forces would combine and power would eventually be shared with elected politicians, but now the generals are fighting for control. The United States and the international community have helped negotiate cease-fire agreements, but it has not fully stopped the violence.
“The civilians, they are the victims. A lot of civilians got killed. A lot of civilians got hurt,” Abuzaid said.
The generals threw Omar al-Bashir, the former ruler of the country, out of power in 2019 following more than 30 years in control. He has been indicted for war crimes. Mohamed was on vacation in the country in 2019 and demonstrated in support of democracy.
“It was a really big dream when the last president was ousted from power. Everyone thought, ‘OK, hopefully now there’s going to be a new Sudan,’” Mohamed said.
He is rheumatologist and has been in touch with doctors in Sudan who are overwhelmed and working practically nonstop. The Associated Press reports that the Sudanese Health Ministry says more than 500 people have been killed, including civilians, since April 15 and 4,200 have been wounded.
“At least 70% of hospitals are out of service now and the 30% that are working, there is a huge shortage of medical supplies,” Mohamed said.
Many of the Mohamed’s and Abuzaid’s family members and friends have moved away from where the fighting has been focused and are hopeful international pressure will lead to a peace agreement.
“Right now, the cease-fire have been extended twice, mainly to evacuate some of the diplomats and the international and foreign workers,” Mohamed said. “However, everyone is afraid that now after those people leave, what’s going to happen?”