Growing up in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medicine student Khamis Jouda has survived numerous wars but says he has experienced nothing like the violence he witnessed in Khartoum this month.
“We have seen things we had never seen before. Everyone feared for his life,” said Jouda, 25, who was evacuated from the Sudanese capital yesterday by bus along with dozens of other Palestinians.
Other Palestinian evacuees said they saw bodies in the streets, looting and fights among residents, some of whom were armed.
The fighting – a power struggle between the Sudanese army and a paramilitary force known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – has killed hundreds of people, wounded thousands and severed power, food and water and supplies.
While the Gaza Strip has gone through numerous wars as a result of Israeli occupation forces bombing Palestinian territories – and suffered its own bout of civil conflict in 2007 – Jouda expressed shock at the firepower unleashed by Sudanese rivals against each other since 15 April.
“We didn’t expect to see warplanes and drones bombing in internal fighting,” said Jouda, adding that he would need psychological therapy to recover from the trauma.
As security broke down, another of the evacuees said they had seen “kids carrying big knives to protect themselves”, asking not to be named to avoid any possible security problems when they return to Sudan.
“We saw factories, vehicles, and buildings which were still on fire, as we passed by. It looked ugly and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. We pray for Sudan.”The Palestinian evacuees are part of a wider exodus of foreign nationals fleeing the fighting.
Sudan has long been a popular destination for Palestinian students, attracted by relatively low tuition fees and the ease of obtaining a visa.
In Gaza, students’ families said they had suffered sleepless nights, fearing for their relatives’ safety.
“Time has been passing very slowly. We live in fear and they live in horror,” said Ghassan Moussa, whose son, Mohammad – also a medicine student – was trapped in a building with no power and water after fighting erupted.
“My son told me he and his friends had to walk out of the place in the dark and they saw bodies scattered in the streets,” Moussa said.
Speaking by phone aboard the bus leaving Khartoum yesterday, his son Mohammad said his future was in jeopardy. “To be able to finish my studies, war has to stop,” said Mohammad, who was in the final year of his course.
“I hope that happens soon.”
The West Bank-based Palestinian Foreign Ministry has so far organised the evacuation of 300 Palestinians and efforts are under way to evacuate hundreds more from Khartoum and other cities, with the collaboration of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, Ahmed Al-Deek, a ministry official, said.