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Sudan: calling for ceasefire and end of crackdown on humanitarian workers, activists

After a year at war, Sudan is witnessing unprecedented violence and targeted attacks on civil society and local responders, with dozens of activists and local volunteers arrested, threatened and prosecuted in several states during in recent weeks. We reiterate our call for ceasefire, restoration of communications and cease of attacks against health facilities.

The states of Sennar, Algadaref, and River Nile are targeting activists who support local communities amid approaching famine. Lawyers, journalists, and local humanitarian workers were prevented from working, their homes were raided, and family members were detained or threatened. 

The clamp down on civil society and the local response to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan is increasing the suffering of millions of people in need of life saving support provided by local civil society initiatives. Since December 2023, the state of Sennar witnessed rising attacks on activists and humanitarian volunteers supporting displaced people from Aljazeera state. At least 6 local volunteers were detained by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in Senja and Sennar according to the Emergency Lawyers recent report on the situation of activists in the state.

In north Kordofan, lawyer Talab Alkatim was arrested from the Alobied market by the military intelligence in the city on 16 April 2024. The  military intelligence in Senja of Sennar state raided the house of lawyer Bakri Almahi and arrested him on 13 April 2024. Journalist Samar Sulaiman received threat messages on her phone accusing her of working with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) due to  her humanitarian work supporting IDPs in Kasala, according to the Sudanese Journalists’ Union in a statement on 24 April 2024. On 30 April, SAF intelligence in Algadref arrested two activists again after their release earlier in the month. In Alfaw town, 4 activists were arrested on 6 May by SAF intelligence following facebook posts calling for the end of the war. 

In March 2024, at least 6 volunteers operating communal kitchens in Sharq Elneil of Khartoum were arrested by RSF for days and questioned about their work and movements in the area. The communal kitchens, which provide essential meals to hungry families trapped in conflict areas, were forced to close for days. 

Local activists and civil society initiatives responding to the humanitarian crisis in the states under SAF control such as Kasala, Algadaref, White Nile and other states are facing increasing restrictions to their movement and ability to enter the hosting locations of displaced people. Movement of aid and supplies to these hosting areas are delayed by prolonged processes to obtain permissions from local security and intelligence officers. This delay is combined with the threatening and harassment of activists. 

In RSF controlled areas, local responders are working under an extremely risky environment. They are regularly subjected to questioning and arrest. Supplies and aid movement is complicated by both parties and subjected to multiple checkpoints and confiscation of part of shipments or causing delay of movement.

In areas like north Darfur and South Kordofan, volunteers and local initiatives are walking everyday on a very thin line to support extremely vulnerable communities. They are working between control areas and fighting lines of multiple armed groups and actors which is increasing the challenges of delivering services and at the same time, remaining safe. 

Northern and eastern states under SAF control have issued emergency decrees and regulations restricting rights to association and peaceful gathering. In the River Nile state, the governor dissolved the ‘Services and Change Committees’, which are the service provision arm of the grassroots mobilisation bodies known as resistance committees. Restrictions on freedom of expression and movement were imposed through these decrees in several states in the last 4 months, including Algadref, Red Sea state, Kasala, and River Nile state. 

The shutdown of communication services and internet access in most of the hot zones in Sudan is endangering the lives of local responders and the humanitarian operations they are leading. Local groups were using the highly expensive Star Link internet to communicate and access digital banking services to fund their operations and movement, but the company recently announced the potential shutdown of the service in several countries including Sudan. This step will impose complete communication blackout on large parts of Sudan dependent on this service. 

Local responders face immense challenges to remain safe and mitigate the risks of their daily operations. They are lacking funding and support for protection, secured movement and evacuation in times of danger. 

While local responders work courageously as the only lifeline in areas closed to international aid groups, they are risking their own safety to deliver services to desperate people in need of life saving support.

The lives of millions of Sudanese depend on the response on the ground, led by local civil society initiatives. The rising attacks on local responders and civil society initiatives is part of the deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid that led to the approaching famine in Sudan. 

Therefore, we reiterate the following demands on :

The warring parties:

  1. An immediate ceasefire and the prompt creation of safe corridors for humanitarian aid organisations and groups, and to guarantee the safety of their operations
  2. An immediate restoration of telecommunications across the country
  3. Cease attacks on health facilities, medical supplies, and health workers, and uphold obligations under international humanitarian law

On States and the international community: 

  1. Pressure the fighting parties to protect civilians and uphold their responsibility under international humanitarian law (IHL)
  2. Call for the disclosure of the whereabouts of the disappeared and the release of detainees, and to urgently address the issue of enforced disappearances and grave violations in detention centres, including gender-based violence
  3. Call for the reinforcement and protection of medical staff in accordance with IHL
  4. Provide support for the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) and other international mechanisms mandated to document human rights violations in Sudan, ensuring that these entities have the necessary resources to carry out their work effectively
  5. Declare support for joint civil society calls on States to create an immediate long-term protection program for women human rights defenders
  6. Support local initiatives providing humanitarian support to local communities as well as support services to victims, and support civil society’s documentation and reporting efforts so that the evidence obtained can be used for future judicial proceedings.


  1. Sudanese Women Rights Action (SUWRA)
  2. The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in Southwest Asia and North Africa (WHRDMENA Coalition)
  3. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  5. Noon center for Combating Sexual Violence
  6. Governance Programming Overseas
  7. Sudanese doctors for human rights
  8. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

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