Cairo, Egypt – “I was pinned down in my house for 15 days due to the constant fighting. My apartment was located between the opposing armies. There was no way to escape,” recalls Mohammed of the early days of the conflict.
“I knew a lot of people who were shot or had their arms and legs blown apart from explosions. It was so frightening.”
Mohammed was among the thousands of Sudanese who fled their country following the start of the conflict which erupted in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Born and raised in the nation’s capital, Khartoum, he lived most of his life in relative peace.
The scale and scope of the fighting caught many civilians by surprise. “I remembered there was a war in Darfur back when I was a child, but I didn’t think such a thing could happen in the capital,” he says.
“Home was nice, it was such a beautiful place. I thought things were finally moving forward in Sudan,” says Mohammed when thinking about life prior to the outbreak of violence.
When a ceasefire was declared back in May, Mohammed and his parents seized the chance to escape the capital. With heavy hearts, they boarded a bus bound for Egypt, leaving behind their homeland.
“It was a hard journey it took two long days, and along the way I witnessed unimaginable horrors, homes being shot at or burned,” says Mohammed.
The journey was very dangerous. Several cars were burned along the way while their bus at one point narrowly missed gun fire. The road to Egypt contained several checkpoints, subjecting all passengers to humiliating searches.
“At one checkpoint, we were asked to hand over all our money and belongings, and were left with nothing,” he says. By the time they reached the Egyptian border in late July, Mohammed spent another three days collecting enough money to pay the transportation cost to make his way across the border.
Prior to the conflict, Mohammed used to own an electronics store that sold mobile phones, laptops and other electronics. However, the crisis had taken a devastating toll, leaving his business in ruins and his livelihood shattered. Now in a new country, Mohammed had to start a new chapter, rebuilding his life after having lost everything.
“It’s difficult to lose everything but I still choose to have hope. I wish to return home when the war ends,” he says. Originally from Northern Darfur, he lived in Sudan’s capital in Khartoum. While living in Khartoum, his family comes from and lives in Al Fashir in Northern Darfur.
At the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office in Cairo, Mohammed registered for assistance to help him rebuild his life while staying in Egypt – one of the largest host countries, with an estimated 415,000 people arriving in the country from Sudan since mid-April.
However, he remains deeply concerned for his family that remains in Al-Fashir, where fighting has effectively trapped them with no safe passage out. “What’s the point of being safe if your family is not safe?” Mohammed asks.