This post is also available in العربية

Trigger Warning and Disclaimer: the content that you are about to read contains graphic and sensitive experiences. The opinions and opinions expressed in this piece solely reflect the author's views and not Andariya's. Reader discretion is advised. Read our full editorial notice here.

Gorom camp in South Sudan. Source: A member of the Sudanese Youth Initiative to Supporting People Affected by the War

The outbreak of conflict in Sudan and its escalation in the past ten months led to more than an estimated 500 thousand fleeing in search of safety in South Sudan. It has not been easy, as many face hardships along the harsh and expensive journey, then arrive to continue suffering in concentration centres and refugee camps, where people live in harsh humanitarian conditions with high levels of spread of diseases and lack of health care.

The Road to Renk


Muhammad Ismail arrived in Juba from Khartoum on a trip that took eight days. He told me, “A week before the outbreak of war, I came from Kordofan to Khartoum to complete travel procedures to Egypt. When the war broke out, I was in Omdurman. At that time, the situation was tolerable there. However, with the progression of the conflict and the aerial bombardment, I left Omdurman for the city of Rabak, and from there I headed to Renk, and that is when the suffering began. We spent three consecutive days in which I suffered from fear, hunger, and cold in a boat on the water heading to Malakal."

The initial wave of Sudanese and South Sudanese crossing into South Sudan created a huge bottleneck, with lack of services and overpopulation at arrival points. Nonetheless, many continue to move Southward, with the UN estimating more than 71 thousand arrivals in December 2023, the highest month yet.

Muhammad Ismail on the boat heading to Malakal. Source: Muhammad Ismail

For some, their delay in leaving Sudan coincided with better accessibility and connections between the two countries for those fleeing the war. Dr Mukhles Ammar, an internal medicine specialist at Omdurman Hospital was there for three weeks when the war started. He then moved to the Libya market neighborhood while continuing to work at the hospital until he decided to go to South Sudan. When he arrived in Renk, the airport had recently opened, therefore he was able to travel directly to Juba. Despite the journey still being difficult, he noted "entry into Juba was smooth, as the airport staff were lenient in the procedures. I managed to travel and entered Juba without a passport, and now I work as a doctor at a hospital in South Sudan".

From the Camp to the City


The Gorom camp quickly became the destination for many who fled the war in Sudan and needed humanitarian aid. Nonetheless, many were shocked at the large numbers of people who needed aid, and the portions designated. Ibrahim Abu Digin, a student at Omdurman National University, went to the camp but soon escaped it after finding conditions were not favorable.


He informed me “We were three people. We left Khartoum for the White Nile State then Renk. Fortunately for us, we were able to catch the plane that evacuated the returning South Sudanese to Bentiu. We arrived in Bentiu and from there, via the southern mainland, we entered Juba. Upon arrival, we went to the Gorom camp. We did not find any aid, and the situation was bad. We completed registration in the camp and received an amount of 12,000 South Sudanese Pounds and food supplies for a month, but it was not enough for one week."

Ibrahim Abu Digin in Juba. Source: Ibrahim Abu Daqan

Muhammad Abdel-Rahman, one of the founders of the Sudanese Youth Initiative to Support People Affected by the War, saw the challenges facing the community as an opportunity to mobilize. He states, “When I arrived in Renk from Khartoum, I found thousands of refugees at the entrance of the city who had not been absorbed as refugees yet, so they were around the camp without shelter, and others were brought inside the campus of the University of Upper Nile, in schools, and mosques. I headed to Malakal and from there to Juba. I arrived in Juba early, and the Gorom Camp had not been opened yet at that time. Simultaneously, the number of fleeing refugees was increasing daily, thus, I thought with others about establishing the Sudanese Youth Initiative to support those affected by the war, seeking to provide housing for refugees who do not have acquaintances or families in Juba."

Gorom camp in South Sudan. Source: A member of the Sudanese Youth Initiative to support those affected by the war

The first step Mohammad and the others did was to contact the Sudanese Embassy, which was unable to intervene and provide assistance. However, they were able to provide housing and help for some families by joining efforts with some civil society organizations in Juba. Days later, the Gorom camp was opened, but it still faced issues; such as registration opening 20 days later. Through the efforts of this initiative, the group was able to collect donations from merchants in markets and distribute them to the refugees in the camp. They also worked with Concern Africa to distribute food supplies and medicines and installed a water pump. The initiative is now trying to expand beyond Juba, to reach other refugee communities in need of support.

Muhammad Ali at Kumba Hotel - Juba. Source: Julius

Lawyer Muhammad Ali had a similar experience, but the war caught him in Al Souq al Arabi in downtown Khartoum, from there he travelled to Juba via Renk. He had already heard the situation in the camp was dire, so he sought a job in Juba. As a lawyer, he's unable to practice in South Sudan, so he chose to work in an aluminum and cladding warehouse.  Like others, he's found the trip difficult but life adjustable in South Sudan.

Julius Ahmed

Julius Ahmed is a student at the Faculty of Mass Communication at Omdurman National University and a civil activist who is interested in culture and issues of cultural marginalization. He also works as a legal assistant at the Ensan Center for Legal Aid.