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The fifth space in Andariya’s series of X spaces was held on Feb 21st and discussed the invisible issues that people face during displacement journeys and settling afterwards. The space was moderated by Tagreed Abdin, a Sudanese architect, project management specialist and mother of boys. Also, she works in construction and management, Tagreed has been a prolific and vocal social activist for more than a decade, focusing on Sudan, human rights and women's rights. Her writing has been published in Al-Monitor, Women in Islam & Buzzfeed, and she was regularly featured as a guest speaker on Sudan on BBC, NPR and The Stream among others.

Tagreed was joined by Amel Tajeldein, a mother of 4 children who graduated from the College of Music and Drama in 2003 and is a guitar teacher. She founded the first musical trio of its kind in Sudan, in addition to co-founding Samandaliyat Music Band. Pre-war, she held the position of Director of the Culture and Training Office at the Shambat Social Culture Foundation (An-Neema) and she is a member of Khartoum North Emergency Room for Women and continues to work with the groups in exile.

The space was planned to also feature Omnia Elgunaid, a Public Relations graduate, who is currently in Sudan after facing multiple displacement journeys since the start of the war. Omnia has been an impactful persona on platform X, providing reliable information and maintaining an authentic voice while documenting live events from the Gezira battles and atrocities by the RSF in light of SAF's withdrawal from the region in December 2023. Unfortunately, she was unable to join due to the ongoing internet blackout affecting most of Sudan and making communication severely intermittent and unreliable.

The speakers offered valuable insights on the invisible burdens created by displacement, seeking refuge, settlement and reconciling with the tragedy while being active in the present moment. Drawing from their individual and community experiences, the following were the key points discussed:

  • During the first days of the war, women had to bear extra burdens and responsibilities on top of the day-to-day domestic role they played, including but not limited to ensuring the safety of their families and managing the family resources, planning routes and movement and negotiating with vendors among others.
  • Although traditionally many females manage the affairs of their families, during the war they were the ones assessing the situation based on available resources (power, water, cash, food etc.) and making the family decisions about movement when the situation became unbearable. This included managing the logistical work that has been, and still is, very difficult.
  • After the war of Madani, people panicked and there were floods of people leaving the Gezira region, especially the ones who came from Khartoum and already experienced this scenario before. This resulted in people witnessing a second war, being displaced for a second time and losing all sense of stability. Furthermore, the fall of Gezira sent shockwaves across the nation, with movement increasing from Sennar, Kosti and other cities, further to the North or East, as the perceived safer areas in the country.

  • No matter the legal status of the Sudanese who fled the war to other countries, most of them feel like foreigners in the new communities they came to. Sudanese communities are also cognizant of some anti-refugees/migrants sentiments in some countries of refuge. This has sparked fear, led to self-censorship and isolation, allowing intimidation by citizens and authorities in some cases. These challenges have frustrated many, with voices expressing desperation go back to Sudan as soon as the war stops, while others have already gone back to an unknown fate as the crisis keeps evolving and new displacements continue to occur.
  • The pressure to quickly understand and comply with the immigration, employment, studying, settlement, rentals etc. rules and regulations in the new countries of refuge, amid bureaucratic and language barriers, continues to persist. The speakers highlighted the lack of policy or advocacy coordination bodies to act on behalf of the thousands in need of guidance and clarifications in the countries of refuge.
  • Almost 70% of the people in displacement camps are women with their children and elder family members. Yet despite women being the central spine for the vulnerable demographics in the camps and shelters, they face systematic and wide-ranging gender violence, abuse, intimidation and extortion. This abuse has been reported throughout the displacement journey and does not start or end at the camp.

  • Another layer of unseen struggles that women (specifically mothers) go through is they are the emotional support pillar for their children and sometimes extended families. Nonetheless, despite all the challenges they are going through they are unable to show vulnerability. The tremendous pressure on these women is palpable through Facebook and other social media platforms, where women discuss their plight, vent, share lessons, seek help/feedback/advice and generally provide support for each other in private and closed groups that transcend borders.
  • The war did not exclude anyone from the suffering, the people who are in relatively safe areas are facing different sets of challenges like inflation, lack of employment opportunities, and lack of personal space among other challenges.
  • The final invisible challenge discussed is the survivor's guilt; of leaving your life, communities, belongings and country behind.

To listen to the whole space click here and follow us for more spaces and audio discussions.

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Andariya's editorial team