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Photos: A year of war in Sudan

A man looks at the smoke rising next to the Army General Command in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 16, 2023.
Faiz Abubakr
A man looks at the smoke rising next to the Army General Command in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 16, 2023.

A year of war has torn through Sudan, causing devastation in a country that just a few years ago, was rich with immense promise. A revolution in 2021 toppled longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and brought the prospect of a brighter future for Sudan's 45 million people. But a coup later that year, led by the army and supported by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, dashed those hopes. And now a fierce battle for control of Sudan between the two sides, fueled by international powers, has caused a major collapse.

Sudan now has the world's largest displacement crisis, according to humanitarian organizations. The fighting has forced more than 8 million people to flee their homes in the past year. The majority of the country is in need of humanitarian assistance and there is a risk of famine. Security monitors and aid groups estimate the conflict has killed at least 14,000 people, a tally that could be far lower than the true death toll, according to many experts. Hunger, malnutrition and the collapse of most health services have led to catastrophic conditions.

One of the most profound consequences are fears of another genocide in western Sudan's Darfur region, where African ethnic groups suffered a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Arab militias 20 years ago. The fighting never completely ended but had waned, until violence from the RSF and allied militias rocketed in the regionone year ago this week. Nearly 600,000 people have fled Darfur into neighboring Chad alone since last year.

Faiz Abubakr is a Sudanese photographer, based in Khartoum, who has documented how the war has upended life in his country.

"Where are my parents?" Musa remembers screaming after a military device he was playing with explodes. "Where are my parents?" his loud cry, shattered the silence of the quiet suburb of Halfaya, north of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. He recounts the event at a camp for displaced people in Gezira state, on Dec. 10, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
"Where are my parents?" Musa remembers screaming after a military device he was playing with explodes. "Where are my parents?" his loud cry, shattered the silence of the quiet suburb of Halfaya, north of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. He recounts the event at a camp for displaced people in Gezira state, on Dec. 10, 2023.
A bedroom with bullet holes through the window in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 18, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
A bedroom with bullet holes through the window in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 18, 2023.
Stray bullets inside a house in Khartoum on April 18, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Stray bullets inside a house in Khartoum on April 18, 2023.
Destruction inside a house in Khartoum on Nov. 11, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Destruction inside a house in Khartoum on Nov. 11, 2023.
A woman and her son with autism look out at Port Sudan in the Red Sea state. She said that she wants to explain to him that the war was lost.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
A woman and her son with autism look out at Port Sudan in the Red Sea state. She said that she wants to explain to him that the war was lost.
Army pilots hit the Rapid Support Force in Khartoum on April 16, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Army pilots hit the Rapid Support Force in Khartoum on April 16, 2023.
Muhammad inspects his house after it was hit by a missile.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Muhammad inspects his house after it was hit by a missile.
Sarah Dink carries her child while going to a camp in Gezira state, on Dec. 10, 2023. She says, "I'm worried about my children's future. I am thinking of returning to Abyei so that I can provide education for my children."
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Sarah Dink carries her child while going to a camp in Gezira state, on Dec. 10, 2023. She says, "I'm worried about my children's future. I am thinking of returning to Abyei so that I can provide education for my children."
A camp for displaced Sudanese people in the city of Wad Madani, on Dec. 10, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
A camp for displaced Sudanese people in the city of Wad Madani, on Dec. 10, 2023.
Displaced Sudanese sit in a classroom on Dec. 12, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Displaced Sudanese sit in a classroom on Dec. 12, 2023.
Mary Monga was forced to flee her home in Khartoum with her children. She posed for a portrait on Dec. 10, 2023. She says, "My baby is only 1 month old, but he looks younger because of the weight of the baby. When I think about the future, I want my child to have an education."
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
Mary Monga was forced to flee her home in Khartoum with her children. She posed for a portrait on Dec. 10, 2023. She says, "My baby is only 1 month old, but he looks younger because of the weight of the baby. When I think about the future, I want my child to have an education."
A child is treated for malnutrition at Rifa'a Hospital, in Gezira state, Sudan, on Oct. 9, 2023.
/ Faiz Abubakr
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Faiz Abubakr
A child is treated for malnutrition at Rifa'a Hospital, in Gezira state, Sudan, on Oct. 9, 2023.
Maryam holds the 7-month-old child she gave birth to inside a refugee camp in Gezira, Sudan, on Dec. 10, 2023. She says "I traveled from Mayo, in southern Khartoum, to the city of Wad Madani. The trip took three days on a karoo [a wooden cart pulled by a donkey], and I was with my six children and was five months pregnant at the time."
/ Faiz Abubakr
/
Faiz Abubakr
Maryam holds the 7-month-old child she gave birth to inside a refugee camp in Gezira, Sudan, on Dec. 10, 2023. She says "I traveled from Mayo, in southern Khartoum, to the city of Wad Madani. The trip took three days on a karoo [a wooden cart pulled by a donkey], and I was with my six children and was five months pregnant at the time."

Editor's note: The photographer did not provide the full names of those photographed in Sudan.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Emmanuel Akinwotu
Emmanuel Akinwotu is an international correspondent for NPR. He joined NPR in 2022 from The Guardian, where he was West Africa correspondent.
Faiz Abubakr