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The Sudan Disaster and Our Duty to Help
A member of the Turkish Red Crescent distributes aid to families in the flood-hit Al-Kalakla area of Khartoum, Sudan, on September 20. (Turkish Red Crescent - handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Sudan Disaster and Our Duty to Help

Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, September 19

Sudan is experiencing a national state of emergency after its villages and cities have been struck by terrible floods. Following several days of storms, more than 33,000 buildings in the country have been damaged, some 50,000 others have been completely destroyed, and 15 people have been declared dead or missing. Sudan is a country still recovering from the wounds of war. This natural disaster comes at a time when the country is already dealing with internal strife, political disorder, and the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these have exacerbated the suffering of the Sudanese people and their ability to effectively respond to this national emergency. The people of Sudan lived under three decades of the worst kind of tyrannical rule. During this time, the country’s leaders adopted a hard-line religious identity and implemented Sharia law. All the while, the theft of public money and the suppression of all political opponents continued to unfold. And while the people eventually revolted against their leaders and managed to install a new government, the effects of this era are still felt in the country to this very day. The floods we are witnessing today are yet another manifestation of the failure of the current Sudanese political system. The post-revolution government is still in its infancy, working to repair the political and legal cracks left by the previous ones. But this process takes time and public buy-in, both of which are lacking in Sudan. Away from the endless political disputes and quarrels within the Arab world, the people of Sudan are in dire need of a helping hand. The whole world, and especially Arab countries, must do whatever they can to help. The Sudanese state has been exhausted by corruption and fighting and it cannot carry this heavy burden alone. The passage of time only makes conditions worse. The televised pictures coming from the center of the country are heartbreaking. Thousands of individuals became homeless overnight. The water sources have become polluted. There is real fear of famine and the loss of basic necessities. In a catastrophic situation like this, it is our duty – indeed, the duty of any capable state, business, relief organization, or global institution – to extend a helping hand to Sudan. Therefore, official and unofficial assistance, both Arab and international, is crucial. This assistance must not stop at the simple transfer of aid funds or relief goods. Rather, the Arab world must hold the current Sudanese government accountable and help its officials set up political structures that will serve the Sudanese public transparently and effectively in years to come. – Ammar Hassan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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