Year end in Khartoum

When violent unrest broke out in Sudan’s major cities in late December 2018, the security team deployed to Khartoum to monitor the situation more closely. Here, Mazen Jomaa from our Dubai team reflects on how the protests progressed and the value that came from being on the ground over a critical period of this unrest.

 

“On Thursday, 27 December, 2018, with my yellow fever vaccine up-to-date, I boarded my flight to Khartoum. Just a week earlier, violent unrest had broken out in Atbara, north of the capital, following the removal of fuel and bread subsidies after inflation rose by almost 80% in the country. Curfews were imposed, but they did not quell the unrest, which quickly spread to other cities and the capital. 

 

We had completed a research trip in November to carry out a full update of our analysis of the situation:  as a result, we already had excellent country-level understanding that we were entering a critical time over the festive period. 

 

When it became clear that Sudan was due for a period of sustained unrest, I deployed to Khartoum to meet our providers, assist our clients and collect additional real-time information to help inform further insight on the situation within the Triangular Capital (as it is colloquially known).

 

 

Upon my arrival, I completed a quick orientation of the city, where I got a sense of an uneasy calm. The next day, I met a number of our trusted providers to confirm we had the right kind of support on stand-by for clients who might request assistance or transport. As a result of our planning trip, I was able to plug quickly into known relationships. Crucially this meant I was able to feed information from my own movements and from our other sources in country back to our team in Dubai. This ensured our updates and alerts were based on the latest reliable and accurate intelligence, despite frequent outages of normal communications which we were able to work around. I did this for the next 4 days, where protests grew in the downtown areas of Khartoum, with security forces using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds.

 

Calls for further protest were made by different organisations for Friday 28 December, Monday 31 December and Tuesday 1 January, 2019 - also Sudanese Independence Day. Each of these were important dates for reassessing the momentum of this unrest and the overall travel risk of the country, which we knew our clients would be monitoring closely. Understanding the potential exposure our members based in Sudan may have, we issued a number of alerts advising clients to defer non-essential travel to Sudan, and for staff already in the capital to minimise movement during these uncertain times. 

 

Following this week, the situation returned to an uneasy calm but we continue to witness flare-ups in some of the surrounding areas of Khartoum and within specific residential districts of Khartoum. We continue to closely monitor the situation and release alerts when necessary to keep our clients updated. From my trip, we gained stronger insights, enhanced provider relationships and ultimately, have been able to enable business for our clients within Sudan.”

 

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