Sudanese students speak about violent situation in Darfur

Kathryn Nelson

Despite the conflict in Darfur that has left 400,000 dead and 2 million displaced, some students still call Sudan home.

Rape, abductions and murders have been common occurrences in Sudan since 2003. Currently, the African Union has been deployed as a peacekeeping force, but the Sudanese government rejected United Nations peacekeepers.

Three University students from various regions of Sudan came together to share their experiences about the continued violence in the country.

Zain brothers

Brothers Fadi and Fayadh Zain spent their childhoods traveling between Saudi Arabia and Wad Madani, in central Sudan.

While the United States has labeled the conflict as genocide, Fayadh Zain said he was skeptical because of the scale of past conflicts.

“Personally I don’t feel that it is genocide, but people are dying and that’s enough,” he said.

The neighborhood where they grew up consisted of houses full of extended families, many of whom were married with children.

“We lived normal lives, went to school and played soccer,” Fadi Zain said.

During the brothers’ time in Sudan, the country was entangled in a 20-year civil war that killed 2.2 million people.

“It was the longest civil war in Africa,” Fayadh Zain said.

The location of Wad Madani shielded the brothers from the direct violence of the war.

They did have extended family members living in the southern region of Sudan who were driven out of their homes by the rebels, Fadi Zain said.

In 2005, 20 years after the fighting began, rebels signed a peace agreement and the country began to stabilize.

Since then, the economy has been getting better, Fayadh Zain said.

“Sudan is an upcoming and developing country, but has a very messy government,” Fadi Zain said.

Fayadh Zain returned to Sudan in 2003 and said he saw no violence during his trip.

Khalid Yousif

Khalid Yousif, originally from Oman, spent his summers in a town near Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Yousif said he also lived in a neighborhood that consisted of his extended family.

“My house had at least 20 people living in it,” he said.

Yousif said he enjoyed living in Sudan, but also recognized the violence associated with the country.

His family in Sudan told him they have seen aid workers and planes coming to help the civilians in Darfur, he said.

Yousif said he recently was told about his uncle’s employee who was killed while trying to retrieve the man’s elderly father from a village occupied by the rebel army, known as Janjaweed.

Yousif said no one in his family has been directly affected by the conflict in Darfur.

Although the previous civil war in Sudan was more violent, the situation in Darfur is critical, Yousif said.

“In a very short time, they have been able to kill a huge amount of people and leave a disaster over there,” he said.