Sudan: Civilians caught in widespread fighting, mass looting of aid

Published 03. May 2023
NRC mourns community volunteer killed in Geneina, West-Darfur.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) strongly condemns the violence in Geneina, West Darfur, which has resulted in the loss of at least 191 lives, including one of our community volunteers. Dozens of settlements have been burnt and destroyed, and thousands have been displaced. The NRC office and guesthouse have also been looted.

“We mourn the loss of our volunteer, Elsheikh Mohamed Omer, who was himself displaced, and was dedicated to supporting his community” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Elsheikh was killed in an informal settlement in Geneina, on Sunday 30 April, where he had been working as part of a team who support camp management through a range of important activities like community outreach, messaging, and data collection. The work is currently suspended due to the security situation.  

“The killing of scores of civilians and the complete disrespect for civilian infrastructure is unacceptable. The stories coming out of there describe a hell on earth where displaced families see their precarious shelters turned to ashes, humanitarian offices looted, warehouses pillaged, and nothing is left.”

The violence began on 25 April in the capital of West Darfur with heavy armed clashes between various local armed groups. Days of intensive fighting in the middle of the city have caused widespread destruction and burning of property. Health facilities, the central market, humanitarian premises, and public buildings were looted. The situation has caused widespread panic and forced many people to flee for their lives. Pillaging, burning, and targeting of civilian homes within Geneina continues. NRC is deeply concerned for the safety of those affected by this rampant violence, including for our colleagues who have had their homes burnt and looted.

“This is devasting. It’s the fourth time in three years that civilians and internally displaced people in Geneina are caught in senseless violence,” Egeland said.

West Darfur has been at the heart of boiling violence in Darfur, with regular and deliberate attacks on civilians since 2021. Those who saw their shelters burned down over recent days were already survivors of horrific violence, living in complete destitution in urban settlements. Displaced communities are desperately looking for safety and are gathering in the remaining sites, all of them already overcrowded.

On this 19th day of war across Sudan, the appalling scenes of violence and bloodshed continue unabated, particularly in the capital Khartoum, and in Geneina.

“Families across Sudan, including those of our colleagues, are being torn apart, and having to choose between remaining trapped in the battlefield, or risking their lives to flee or reach an overcrowded hospital. They are running out of everything, including water, food, electricity, fuel, and cash. We need the international community to put as much effort into secure humanitarian access, regardless of ceasefire and in providing aid to millions of people as they have in evacuating their own citizens,” Egeland said.


Note to editors:

Regular updates from NRC’s staff on the ground are available here.

NRC Sudan’s annual report is available here for more information about NRC’s work in country.


Karl Schembri, Regional Media Adviser in Nairobi, +254741664562,

NRC’s media hotline: +4790562329,