Sudan’s Cop28 delegates “really hurt” by silence on their civil war

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At the recent Cop28 climate talks in Dubai, hordes of Sudanese workers in blue jackets and lanyards helped guide lost delegates around the sprawling venue.

But, while protests about the war in Gaza echoed all over the venue, survivors of the ongoing Sudanese conflict told Climate Home they felt voiceless about their struggle.

A rare voice for Sudan in the main Cop28 meeting room was Roaa Alobeid, who said on behalf of youth campaigners: “I saw on movies what war was like, but never ever dreamed it would be so horrible like this”.


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She told Climate Home: “We all see what is happening in Gaza and are very empathetic with them, as Arabs, Muslims and human beings.”

“But I felt very terrible at Cop, because I also know what is happening in Sudan and how we almost share the same experience, the only difference being the enemy”, she said.

“When I was seeing how the whole world is not only aware but empathetic and fighting for what is happening to [the Palestinians], and as a Sudanese youth nobody even knew that I was displaced too, it really hurts”.

Forced to flee

Sudan’s civil war began in April, as the military clashed with the country’s main paramilitary force.

Since then, the two sides have killed thousands of people and sent millions fleeing for safety, including several Cop delegates and staff.

Nisreen Elsaim is an African Group negotiator from Khartoum 2, the wealthy neighbourhood of Sudan’s capital which became the heart of the conflict.

She told Climate Home that missiles and stray bullets had hit her home. “I took my 10-month baby, ran downstairs and stayed under beds for the two weeks that followed that morning,” she said, adding that they had endured a full month under shelling – ten days of which were with no water or electricity.

“My home’s backyard is now a graveyard,” she said, “there isn’t enough space to bury the dead anymore”.

Sudan’s Cop28 delegates “really hurt” by silence on their civil war

Nisreen Elsaim boards a British humanitarian flight from Sudan to the UK (Photo: Nisreen Elsaim)

Mona Saad Elnour is a dentist and was one of the blue-jacketed staff members guiding delegates around Cop28.

She said she’d had to flee her home with just a passport, one set of pyjamas and her abaya dress.

Youth campaigner Mohammed Fathalrahman says he survived death by shooting once and bombing twice before travelling to Cop28.

While he has moved to Port Sudan for work, his family still live in Sudan’s second-biggest city Wad Madani, which troops invaded just after Cop28 on Monday.

A vicious cycle

The Sudanese delegates Climate Home spoke to emphasised the link between climate change and conflict.

In her rousing speech at Cop28, Roaa called for attention to wars in Sudan, Palestine, Syria, Congo-Brazzaville and elsewhere. But, she added, “let us not forget about the climate crisis.”

Before the war, after floods in 2017, she visited a village destroyed by the water. “There was nothing left in that village. All the houses, the schools, the hospitals – all had been destroyed”.

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Elsaim is researching how war affects climate resilience and said that climate disasters like floods, droughts and sandstorms weaken fragile institutions and erode the government’s capacity to stop conflict.

She added that many of the conflicts are partly over the use of shared natural resources and those natural resources are depleted by the conflict.

“Bombs, deforestation, toxic gases – we are already witnessing their effect,” she said, “climate change and conflict run in a vicious cycle”.

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