The bishop’s plea on media reporting on the civil war in Sudan


The Bishop of Bradford has called for wider media coverage of Sudan’s civil war following his return from a visit to the country.

Sudan’s army has been fighting paramilitary Rapid Support Forces for more than a year, in a conflict that has killed thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

The Right Revd Toby Howarth visited the country last week with the Right Reverend Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds.

Bishop Howarth said the Sudanese civil war had been overshadowed in the media by the “terrible events in Ukraine and Gaza”.

People watch near makeshift shelters, near Awlala Camp, Amhara region, EthiopiaPeople watch near makeshift shelters, near Awlala Camp, Amhara region, Ethiopia

Makeshift shelters have been built by Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia’s Amhara region (Reuters)

“It’s almost like the bandwidth of the media and governments around the world has been stretched so much,” he said.

‘It’s like people don’t have room for anything else.

“But something that is so big and yet barely makes it into our news feeds is extraordinary to me,” he added.

Bishop Howarth said he and Bishop Baines had visited Sudan against the advice of the British government.

“The main reason Bishop Nick and I went was really to say, ‘You are not forgotten, we pray for you every day, we love you, we have your back,’” he said.

‘Love must reach’

Bishop Howarth said people displaced by Sudan’s civil war “feel abandoned”.

“It’s terrible. You hear these numbers – more than 10 million displaced people, more than three million children at risk of dying from malnutrition – but it really hit me when we visited a camp for internally displaced people,” he said.

Bishop Howarth said seeing the camp, where 800 families lived in tents, had made things seem “very real” to him.

However, he said he also met “a special woman called Victoria, in a broken down tent”.

Residents wait to collect food in containers from a soup kitchen in Omdurman, SudanResidents wait to collect food in containers from a soup kitchen in Omdurman, Sudan

Nearly five million people in Sudan are on the brink of famine as the country’s civil war passes the one-year mark (Reuters)

The bishop said that in the days after the fighting broke out, Victoria had “encountered all these people sleeping on the beach with nothing.”

“So she found a place on the site that used to be an old social club, cleared it up and moved the people there,” he added.

Bishop Howarth said that over the course of a year, Victoria had “campaigned, advocated, found tents and a toilet block and done incredible work through love”.

He said Victoria said to him: ‘What does love do in a situation like that? Love must reach people.’

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