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Updated April 15, 2024


The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) is issuing guidance to help newsrooms more accurately and critically cover issues related to Sudan.

Sudan is in the middle of a civil war, resulting in a humanitarian disaster, famine, and the world’s largest displacement crisis. Yet coverage of the war by the news media has been minimal. Some experts are calling Sudan’s current conflict the “forgotten war” due to the lack of coverage. AMEJA created this reporting guide in response to requests from industry reporters, editors, and producers for resources to better understand the historical context and nuance.

This guidance was created with input from journalists from the region and media professionals across all types of media platforms. This is not an exhaustive list of guidelines and resources, and AMEJA expects these recommendations to evolve as events unfold.

AMEJA urges anyone covering this issue to:

Understand the conflict before reporting on it. On April 15, 2023, violent clashes broke out between Sudan's national army and a paramilitary group in the capital Khartoum. The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are fighting for government control, both attempting to secure power over Sudan and its resources. As the conflict continues, more than eight million people have been displaced, and humanitarian conditions continue to worsen. Please refer to this ongoing status report by the United Nations for recent and accurate key figures.

Recognize the gravity of this war. The United Nations says that Sudan is experiencing the world's largest internal displacement crisis, with nearly 15% of the population now displaced from their homes. UN experts are also calling the war “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history." More than 15,000 fatalities have been recorded, though many experts believe the number is likely higher as security conditions and internet outages make reporting difficult.

Be aware of the historical context. To understand the current sentiments of the Sudanese people, you need to understand the history they lived through. After Sudan gained independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956, the country underwent multiple regimes and military coups. In 2019, dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted after a series of civilian protests demanding democracy. This period in time was called The Sudanese Revolution. Today, many Sudanese civilians are frustrated and disappointed by the events and political maneuvering that followed the revolution, which ultimately did not result in a full-functioning democracy. Today, they find themselves in yet another war, leaving many hopeless and forced to flee. 

Understand the international and regional politics at play. Sudan is the third largest country in the continent, bordering seven countries and the Red Sea. Multiple countries depend on the nation's exports of gold, petroleum and agricultural produce. Egypt is heavily affected by the conflict, as both countries are directly connected through politics, trade and access to the Nile River. Egypt also is hosting the largest number of Sudanese refugees. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have also invested billions of dollars in companies in Sudan, making them the top importers of gold and agricultural resources. In October 2020, Sudanese military leaders signed the Abraham Accords, normalizing ties with Israel, for what many have deemed a quid pro quo, with the United States removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and arranging for the country a $1.2 billion loan. It has also been asserted that accord signing relieved pressure on these same leaders to transition the government from military to civilian rule, as they had promised. 

Understand the rich history of Sudan. Sudan is one of the oldest countries in the world, with a rich history dating back to ancient times. The Kingdom of Kush (now modern-day Sudan) controlled the Nile River Valley around 800 BCE, and Kushite kings and queens ruled over the region for centuries, becoming one of the most powerful kingdoms of that era. Today, Sudan is home to the most pyramids in the world, with over 200 in the country. The current conflict represents a threat to Sudanese historical sites and cultural practices recognized by UNESCO as an integral part of world heritage.

Be cognizant on how you’re identifying Sudanese people. Sudan and South Sudan are two different countries. Please understand the difference when looking for sources and identifying them in your stories. 

Double-check sources. When looking for people to interview or cite as a source, do your best to find either Sudanese journalists, Sudanese people, or experts on the region. Sudan’s history and current conflict are complicated, so it is crucial to make sure you are sourcing organizations and experts who can give accurate information and clearly dissect the issue at hand. Check previous work and writings of potential sources to establish their credibility and expertise. Please reach out to AMEJA if help is needed to find sources or experts.

Learn how Darfur is affected. As the current civil war continues, rebel groups and soldiers have invaded the region of Darfur, which has been the victim of ethnic cleansing for decades. In the past year, many in Darfur have been forced to flee to neighboring countries like Chad to escape the targeted violence. The clashes in Darfur are not the main cause of the current civil war, but parties to it have been involved in the consistent conflict there since the early 2000s. The decades-long strife is complex, involving issues of climate change, pressures on agriculture, a shrinking of pastoral lands, and cultural/ethnic differences. The current war has fueled greater violence, leading to a resurgence of mass killings, forced displacement, and famine. We suggest that journalists refer to the Middle East Research and Information Project’s report for more background information.

Do not exclude Sudan from Arab conversations. Despite being a part of the Arab League, Sudan and its peoples tend to receive less attention from the media when it comes to Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African affairs. This war can lead to devastating effects on Sudan’s neighboring countries in both the Middle East and Africa, as many nations depend on Sudan for its resources and geographical advantages.

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