Families in Sudan divided by rival military factions

Damaged cars and buildings are seen at the central market during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan 27 April, 2023.AFP

As Sudan fell apart this month in pitched battles between warring military factions, Mohamed Jally's family in the vast desert region of Darfur was itself torn in two, with a brother fighting on each side.

Although the brothers are not presently fighting in the same place, Jally fears the war between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group will eventually pitch them against each other.

"It definitely feels really bad having one of my brothers fighting with the army and the other with the RSF, both on the frontlines," said Jally, a banker.

"I pray to God that they are protected until the war ends and that they manage to get back to the family," he added.

Jally said he hates the war, which suddenly erupted on 15 April.

The army and RSF had shared power after a 2021 coup but they fell out this year over a political transition and the paramilitary group's planned merger into the regular armed forces.

The RSF emerged from the so-called 'Janjaweed' militias that fought in Darfur during a conflict that raged there from 2003, killing more than 300,000 people. The group still recruits heavily in the region.

Besides worrying about the two brothers, the family is also anxious about their father, who is not in good health and would be particularly hard hit by bad news.

Mosaab Jally initially told the family he was based in al-Fashaqa, far from the fighting, but he later admitted he was in Nyerti in a state that has seen some clashes.

The other brother, Yacoub, is with the RSF and has said he is in the thick of the fighting. Unable to easily communicate with Yacoub, the family was not able to tell him that he had become the father to a new baby boy for days.

Mohamed Jally asked Yacoub to stay away from frontlines, but he said doing so would be dishonorable and let down his comrades. He believes that what he is doing is "logical and patriotic", Mohammed Jally said.

"I'm definitely worried about them being in a confrontation," Mohamed Jally said. Meanwhile there is little he can do, he says.

"I pray to God to protect you both during this conflict, in which I'm the only loser," Mohammad posted on his social media in hopes that Mosaab, even if under violence, can at least hear one good piece of news.