Sudanese Women Are Facing Difficult Conditions After Nearly a Year of Conflict

The suffering of women in Sudan- File Photo
The suffering of women in Sudan- File Photo
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Sudanese Women Are Facing Difficult Conditions After Nearly a Year of Conflict

The suffering of women in Sudan- File Photo
The suffering of women in Sudan- File Photo

As the world marks International Women's Day, Sudanese women continue to struggle with extremely difficult humanitarian conditions. Women have been subjected to various kinds of gross human rights violations since the war between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces broke out last year.

For millions of Sudanese women, the past year has been a living hell of sexual assault, rape, and forced displacement. Many have walked long distances on foot as they made their way to camps in neighboring countries; others waited at border crossings for months before obtaining visas.

Rehab Al-Mubarak, a member of Sudan’s Emergency Lawyers, explains the dire situation women are living under in Sudan.

"Women have paid a high price for this war. They have been subjected to forced labor. Many have been gravely harmed, and many are being gravely harmed. Some have been forced to work in domestic labor, and have been subjected to horrific forms of sexual violence and brutally raped. They have few options, and they are struggling to survive and escape from the regions in which battles are raging."

Umm Muhammad has been working for a civic organization since fighting broke out in Khartoum and engulfed her neighborhood. She says: "The war forced us to leave our homes, our lives, our memories, and all of our possessions. We went through hell when we were forced out of the capital. We witnessed the destruction of our city; we saw its markets burn. We will never forget the pain of seeing the corpses left along the road."

She also described the trauma that her daughter experienced after being shot at while they had been trying to escape the capital. “We faced real terror, as whenever we passed a military checkpoint, we would be shot at continuously to force the driver to stop moving."

Heba Khatmi, a teacher who survived the war in Khartoum, also told her story. "I fled Khartoum and sought refuge in my father's hometown of Abri, only to fall totally mute for a time. My mind refused to recall what had happened in Khartoum. Settling in the town where I found refuge was not easy. I began to think about leaving Sudan after losing hope that the war would end, as well as facing financial constraints after losing my job."

Iman Fadel, a member of the Sudanese Journalists’ Union, shared the painful stories of women journalists. "Most of them have lost their source of income after most newspapers stopped operating, and they sought refuge in camps, living under extremely difficult humanitarian conditions. Their pain was exacerbated by being targeted, and we must not forget what happened to Samaher Abdel Shafei, the journalist who was assassinated in Darfur, and Halima Idris, the journalist who was killed while covering battle at Omdurman Hospital."

The United Nations published reports last week documenting further violations against women in Darfur, including murder, forced displacement, and rape. Some of the victims are children. Condemnations of the violence compare the events unfolding today to the violence that devastated the region around twenty years ago. Over 200,000 people were killed at the time. One particularly notorious crime against humanity was the mass rape perpetrated in the village of Tabit.

Volunteers and human rights organizations accuse both belligerents in Sudan of detaining hundreds of women on trumped-up espionage charges, or merely because of their ethnic background.

The Darfur Lawyers Association announced last February that authorities in the city of Atbara (530 kilometers from Khartoum) had arrested Inaam Ahmed Khairy and Salma Hassan because they are part of the Messiria tribe and belonging an ethnic group associated with the Rapid Support Forces.

Research on education in Sudan conducted since the war erupted demonstrates the devastating impact it has had on the country’s 11 million students, half of whom are girls. Many could be forced into child marriage or flee their homes.



Climate Change Imperils Drought-Stricken Morocco’s Cereal Farmers and Its Food Supply

 A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
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Climate Change Imperils Drought-Stricken Morocco’s Cereal Farmers and Its Food Supply

 A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)

Golden fields of wheat no longer produce the bounty they once did in Morocco. A six-year drought has imperiled the country's entire agriculture sector, including farmers who grow cereals and grains used to feed humans and livestock.

The North African nation projects this year's harvest will be smaller than last year in both volume and acreage, putting farmers out of work and requiring more imports and government subsidies to prevent the price of staples like flour from rising for everyday consumers.

"In the past, we used to have a bounty — a lot of wheat. But during the last seven or eight years, the harvest has been very low because of the drought," said Al Housni Belhoussni, a small-scale farmer who has long tilled fields outside of the city of Kenitra.

Belhoussni's plight is familiar to grain farmers throughout the world confronting a hotter and drier future. Climate change is imperiling the food supply and shrinking the annual yields of cereals that dominate diets around the world — wheat, rice, maize and barley.

In North Africa, among the regions thought of as most vulnerable to climate change, delays to annual rains and inconsistent weather patterns have pushed the growing season later in the year and made planning difficult for farmers.

In Morocco, where cereals account for most of the farmed land and agriculture employs the majority of workers in rural regions, the drought is wreaking havoc and touching off major changes that will transform the makeup of the economy. It has forced some to leave their fields fallow. It has also made the areas they do elect to cultivate less productive, producing far fewer sacks of wheat to sell than they once did.

In response, the government has announced restrictions on water use in urban areas — including on public baths and car washes — and in rural ones, where water going to farms has been rationed.

"The late rains during the autumn season affected the agriculture campaign. This year, only the spring rains, especially during the month of March, managed to rescue the crops," said Abdelkrim Naaman, the chairman of Nalsya. The organization has advised farmers on seeding, irrigation and drought mitigation as less rain falls and less water flows through Morocco's rivers.

The Agriculture Ministry estimates that this year's wheat harvest will yield roughly 3.4 million tons (3.1 billion kilograms), far less than last year's 6.1 million tons (5.5 billion kilograms) — a yield that was still considered low. The amount of land seeded has dramatically shrunk as well, from 14,170 square miles (36,700 square kilometers) to 9,540 square miles (24,700 square kilometers).

Such a drop constitutes a crisis, said Driss Aissaoui, an analyst and former member of the Moroccan Ministry for Agriculture.

"When we say crisis, this means that you have to import more," he said. "We are in a country where drought has become a structural issue."

Leaning more on imports means the government will have to continue subsidizing prices to ensure households and livestock farmers can afford dietary staples for their families and flocks, said Rachid Benali, the chairman of the farming lobby COMADER.

The country imported nearly 2.5 million tons of common wheat between January and June. However, such a solution may have an expiration date, particularly because Morocco's primary source of wheat, France, is facing shrinking harvests as well.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization ranked Morocco as the world's sixth-largest wheat importer this year, between Türkiye and Bangladesh, which both have much bigger populations.

"Morocco has known droughts like this and in some cases known droughts that las longer than 10 years. But the problem, this time especially, is climate change," Benali said.