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Sudan crisis: Impact on foreign students

Nigerian student from Sudan. Photo: Archive/Radio Nigeria

Since 1983, Sudan has seen violent instability, including the Second Sudanese Civil War, which lasted for around 20 years.

It peaked again in 2011 with the Arab Spring-inspired protests, led by student groups and opposition parties, calling for political reforms, democratic governance, and an end to economic hardships. And the crisis has continued.

Sudan witnessed another civil unrest with the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, and the military overthrew the government in a coup in October 2021.

Intense skirmishes between Sudan’s military and its main paramilitary organisation, Rapid Support Force, RSF have resulted in a new round of fighting that has killed hundreds of people and forced thousands to flee.

Countries have been evacuating their citizens from the ‘war’, including Nigeria as the impact is felt beyond the borders of Sudan.

Many of the Nigerian students who were evacuated in May 2023 are still finding it difficult to acclimatise to life here.

Some are having difficulty locating appropriate academic programmes or institutions to transfer to, while others are dealing with the anguish of having to leave their friends, belongings, and dreams behind in Sudan.

The government should develop long-term strategies and provide resources to assist evacuated students in reintegrating into Nigerian society, including counselling services, financial aid, and academic and vocational training programmes.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in an ongoing war, many Nigerian students there also experienced this tragedy.

Governments from across the world should urge a return to civilian authority and foster communication between the military and civil society groups in order to find a peaceful solution to the discontent in the nation.

The crisis may result in an influx of refugees and worsen security issues already present in neighbouring nations, destabilising the region as a whole.

Civil unrest in Sudan in the last 10 years:

2011-2013: The Arab Spring-inspired protests in Sudan, led by student groups and opposition parties, calling for political reforms, democratic governance, and an end to economic hardships.

2013-2014: The Sudanese government launched a brutal crackdown on dissent, including the arrest and torture of activists, journalists, and opposition leaders, and the closure of independent media outlets.

2015-2016: The conflict in Darfur intensified, with renewed clashes between government forces and rebel groups, leading to the displacement of thousands of people.

2018: Massive protests erupted across Sudan, triggered by the government’s decision to raise the price of bread, but soon evolved into a nationwide movement calling for the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for 30 years.

2019: Following months of protests, the Sudanese military ousted al-Bashir and established a transitional government, which promised to hold democratic elections in 2022.

2023: Clashes erupted in the middle of April amid an apparent power struggle between the two main factions of the military regime.

Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Saadatu Albashir