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Bishop’s plea over Sudan civil war media coverage

In World
June 09, 2024

The Bishop of Bradford has appealed for wider media coverage of the civil war in Sudan, after returning from a visit to the country.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces for more than a year, in a conflict which has killed thousands and forced millions from their homes.

The Right Revd Toby Howarth visited the country last week with the Right Reverend Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds.

Bishop Howarth said the Sudanese civil war had been overshadowed in the media by the “appalling events in Ukraine and Gaza”.

People look on near makeshift shelters, near Awlala Camp, Amhara region, Ethiopia

Makeshift shelters have been constructed by Sudanese refugees in the Amhara region of Ethiopia [Reuters]

“It’s almost like the bandwidth of media and governments around the world has just got so stretched,” he said.

“It is like people don’t have room for something else.

“But something which is this big, yet hardly makes it to our news feeds, is extraordinary to me,” he added.

Bishop Howarth said he and Bishop Baines had visited Sudan against the advice of the UK government.

“The main reason Bishop Nick and I went was basically to say, ‘you are not forgotten, we pray for you every day, we love you, we stand with you’,” he said.

‘Love has to reach out’

Bishop Howarth said people displaced by the civil war in Sudan “feel abandoned”.

“It’s awful. You hear these numbers – more than 10 million people displaced, more than three million children in danger of dying from malnutrition – but it really came home to me when we visited a camp for internally displaced people,” he said.

Bishop Howarth said seeing the camp, where 800 families lived in tents, had made things seem “very real” to him.

However, he said he had also met “an extraordinary woman called Victoria, in a broken down tent”.

Residents wait to collect food in containers from a soup kitchen in Omdurman, Sudan

Nearly five million people in Sudan are close to famine as the country’s civil war passes the one-year mark [Reuters]

The bishop said in the days after fighting broke out, Victoria had encountered “all these people sleeping on beaches with nothing”.

“So, she found a place on ground which used to be an old social club, cleared it and moved the people there,” he added.

Bishop Howarth said that over the period of a year, Victoria had “campaigned, advocated, found tents and a toilet block and done incredible work through love”.

He said Victoria told him: “What does love do in a situation like that? Love has to reach out.”

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