Restricted Movement, “communication is very difficult for us”: Missionary Priest in Sudan

St. Joseph Vocational Training Centre (VCT) situated in Khartoum. Credit: Salesian Missions

A Catholic Missionary Priest ministering in violence-stricken Khartoum has lamented restricted movement in the Sudanese capital city, and difficulty in establishing communication with others amid continued violence in the Northeastern African nation since April 15.

In a Wednesday, May 24 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Jacob Thelekkadan, a member of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), said fighting has continued despite the latest seven-day Agreement on Short-Term Ceasefire and Humanitarian Arrangements between representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. brokered, effective May 22.

We are currently surrounded by the RSF soldiers who are fighting the army,” Fr. Thelekkadan said, and added, “We cannot move out of our houses and to know what is happening is very difficult.” 

Our mobile and internet networks are very bad and communication is very difficult for us; we have to go to one corner of the house to get connected because of the gunshots,” the Indian-born SDB member who serves as the Director of St. Joseph Vocational Training Centre (VCT) situated in Khartoum said during the May 24 interview.

Fr. Thelekkadan added, “We continue to pray for God’s intervention to bring peace to Sudan.” 


Though the ceasefire that came into effect on May 22 appeared to have brought some respite from heavy fighting, artillery fire could be heard in parts of Khartoum and warplanes flew overhead, Reuters reported May 24.

More than a million people have reportedly been displaced in Sudan as fighting rages on between SAF under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and RSF, the paramilitary force under General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Reuters reported on May 19.

The Reuters report further indicated that “843,000 people were displaced internally and around 250,000 people who have fled across Sudan's borders.”

Also speaking to ACI Africa on May 24, Fr. Zobinou Komlan Hubert, SDB member in Khartoum confirmed ongoing fighting, saying, “I can hear some shootings from the side of Omdurman.”

The Parish Priest of St. Joseph Kalakla Parish of Khartoum Catholic Archdiocese that is located some 15 km South of Khartoum called on the warring parties to “respect the ceasefire they signed last week to open the way for peace.”

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In an earlier interview, Fr. Komlan highlighted some of the challenges resulting from the fighting.

“Thousands of people are suffering to cross borders or to fly to their countries. For some families from our parish, they are stuck in Rink, waiting for flight to Juba more than a week now,” the Togolese member of the SDB told ACI Africa during the May 3 interview.

He added, “The issue of food and water and electricity is the biggest problem for the people who left and are waiting somewhere and for us who remained in Khartoum. We don't know how it will be if they continue fighting.”

Pope Francis has urged the international community to “spare no effort” in pushing for dialogue between SAF and RSF.

“I renew a heartfelt call for the laying down of arms and call on the international community to spare no effort to make dialogue prevail and alleviate the suffering of the people,” the Holy Father said after the Regina Caeli prayers on Sunday, May 21.


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