Fighting in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, quickly spread to the country’s Darfur region, displacing tens of thousands of people across the border to Chad.
Haweya and her family were sleeping at their home in Tendalti in Sudan’s western Darfur region when armed men entered the house.
“A bullet hit my husband … My child took a stray bullet at the same time, and I was tortured, because I refused to denounce [my husband],” said Haweya.
“They hit me with a stick and until now my left ear doesn’t work so I can’t hear well.”
Haweya’s husband died from his wounds, and she fled on foot towards the border with Chad with her injured son on her back.
“I had to leave the rest of my children there, other people brought them here because I couldn’t stay … We left everything behind.”
Haweya and her four children are among more than 90,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighbouring Chad since fighting between rival military factions that started in Khartoum a month ago engulfed large parts of the country.
Ethnic tensions rekindled
Western Darfur has been particularly affected by the conflict which has re-ignited existing ethnic and intercommunal tensions. Heavy civilian casualties have been reported there as well as looting and burning of public and humanitarian facilities, including camps for internally displaced people.
“In Tendalti, you have different ethnic communities, and they fear being attacked,” explained Brice Degla, a senior emergency coordinator with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in Chad. “Even on the [Chadian] side of the border, they continue to feel insecure because they know that the town is not that far from here.”
The refugees are contributing to what was already a dire humanitarian crisis in Chad, a landlocked country struggling with widespread food insecurity, the effects of climate change and inter-communal conflict. According to the UN, 6.9 million people – more than a third of the Chadian population – need humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, even before the current influx, the country was hosting more than a million forcibly displaced people, including 400,000 Sudanese refugees in the east.