(will be posted on Enough’s website)
Youth Activism Rises Along With Flood Waters in Sudan
Unprecedented heavy rainfall in Sudan has resulted in flooding in many areas of Khartoum and across the northern part of the country. The neighborhoods of East Nile, Khartoum, Karari and Ombadda have all been inundated, leading to at least 38 casualties. Some sources accuse pro-regime news sources of downplaying the real numbers and claim that over a hundred have been killed as a result of the floods. According to statistics collected by the newly formed Nafeer campaign, 12,800 persons have been affected by the flood. The number of houses that have been affected by the floods has risen up to a total of 1,454 with 823 fully damaged. Many have been made homeless. As Sudanese enter into the Eid celebration after the holy month of Ramadan many will find themselves under water.
The poor infrastructure and a lack of drainage mechanisms caused flooding that has lasted for four days. NGOs that typically help with disaster relief have been either shut down by national security or are struggling to operate with governmental restrictions on their activity. These limits make humanitarian services almost non-existent in impacted areas. The government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) which acts as a security organ issuing permissions for NGOS to operate has been involved in a massive crackdown on NGOs. Service delivery organizations, especially foreign and foreign-funded NGOs, have been suspected and accused of being having a political agenda leading to their closure. The lack of government infrastructure or civil society to cater to those impacted by natural disasters has left a void in service delivery during the latest floods
While president Bashir was busy planning a trip to congratulate the new Iranian president (which was interrupted by a revocation of permission to use Saudi airspace) and enjoying lavish Iftars, Khartoum was underwater. Sudan’s youth rushed to create an emergency relief initiative for those impacted. Thousands of youth volunteers formed a campaign named Nafeer (which is Arabic for rushing to work) to cater to the victims of the rain and floods.
AlNafeer Campaign which was established under the motto of “Filling the Gap and Doing What’s Supposed to be Done” is youth led campaign comprised of an estimate of a hundred youth volunteers. It is both an active on the ground movement as well as an online movement with a Facebook and Twitter page raising funds and support for the victims of the rain. They have garnered over 11,000 likes on Facebook over the past few days. Through strenuous efforts they have managed to set a mobile clinic with a volunteer doctor ,and they have collaborated with pharmacies to set up a medication drive. They have collected and disseminated infant formula, mosquito nets, readymade food, tents, organized Iftars and more daily for the past four days. Their work has been complimented by Tweets under #KhartoumSinking reporting on the casualties of the rainfall and ways to help those affected. The movement also extends across borders with volunteers raising funds from diaspora Sudanese through campaigns based in North America, Middle East. Sara Elhassan who is a member of one of the volunteer committees of AlNafeer Campaign explains that the campaign is fully apolitical, and further adds that the volunteers are too “swamped with work” to point fingers or hold the government accountable. She further adds that they have only managed to cater to the needs of eight percent of the population to date.
Other Sudanese groups have been more vocal about their frustration with the lack of government response. Sudan Tribune reports that protests broke out in Omdurman’s Libya Market protesting government’s inaction and inefficiency. Protestors were met with resistance from government forces. Some were arrested and detained which has been the typical pattern of governmental responses to citizens peacefully raising their demands in Sudan. The protestors of Libya Market were not affiliated with AlNafeer Campaign who had no knowledge of the protests.
Sudanese have proactively been taking matters in their own hands by being involved in disaster management and helping those affected. They have become the agents of change and action in Sudan whether through civil society or in the foreseeable future, politically as well. Nothing comes in their way in such emergency situations for blaming and nostalgia are matters of the past, this is the age of action and not permissiveness. This is the age of the youth in Sudan.