In Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, Arafa Adoum, a heavily pregnant radio presenter, endured a harrowing journey fleeing violence and persecution to giving birth to a baby at the border crossing with Chad. She gave birth on the road with no assistance from either a midwife or a passerby.
She recalled that when she had the baby, all that mattered was seeking the safety of the baby and herself. At that moment, all her strength was directed to walking to a camp of refuge. She only relaxed after she landed at the refugee camp.
After her three sons were tragically killed by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied Arab militiamen during the ongoing conflict, she decided to escape with her four daughters from their hometown of El Geneina. Her husband took a different, more dangerous route to ensure his safety, according to BBC. Being a Massalit man, he might be killed if he passed through RSF-manned roadblocks, the news site said.
Walking for 25km in the scorching sun, Adoum made her way to the border crossing with Chad. Exhausted and alone, she went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy on the road to Chad, whom she named Mohamed. The refugee camp near the Chadian town of Adré became her temporary home, but she had to leave her other sons’ unburied bodies behind, unable to give them a proper farewell.
Darfur has been severely affected by the conflict, with the RSF and militias attempting to establish Arab supremacy in the region by targeting black Africans, including Adoum’s Massalit community. The battle for El Geneina, a symbol of black African power in Darfur, has been particularly brutal, leading to many deaths and displacements.
Sheikh Mohammed Yagoub, a Massalit leader and refugee in Adré, spoke of the devastating toll the fighting took on their community, with many lives lost in a short span of time. The RSF denied involvement in the conflict, instead attributing it to tensions between Arab groups and the Massalit.
Adoum recounted the tragic fate of her three sons, who sought refuge at El Geneina’s university but were killed when the RSF and Janjaweed shelled and torched the area. Other members of her extended family also lost their lives, including her father-in-law, who was brutally attacked and shot.
Adoum and her husband reunited at the refugee camp, finding solace in their newborn son Mohamed after the heartbreaking loss of their three boys. The refugee camp has become a place of immense suffering, with pregnant women enduring hardships.
A field hospital set up by a charity in Adré provides some medical support, but the facility is overwhelmed with patients, many of whom are women, babies, and children with gunshot wounds.
In this turmoil, Adoum’s story stands as a testament to the resilience of those forced to flee their homes and endure unthinkable hardships. Her journey reflects the devastating consequences of the ongoing conflict in Darfur and the urgent need for humanitarian aid to support those displaced by violence and seeking safety in refugee camps like the one in Adré.