Over 300 Ugandans Caught in Khartoum Fighting

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • April 19, 2023

Close to 300 Ugandans were by last evening reported to be trapped in Khartoum after outbreak of clashes between rival military factions forced the airport to close and echoes of blasts and bullets kicked in survival instinct and restrained movements.

Some of those stranded in the Sudanese capital, where violence erupted on Saturday, were students and or pilgrims heading to Mecca, State Regional Affairs minister John Mulimba told Parliament yesterday.

Some families in Kampala reported receiving distress calls from relatives marooned at hotels in Khartoum where food and water were reported scarce and power outages rampant.

The fighting pits the Sudan Armed Forces headed by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and loyalists of Gen Mohamed Hamden Hemedti Dagalo, leader of the powerful Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The two generals were on the same side and worked to oust Omar el-Bashir in 2019, but fell out over plans to integrate the RSF into mainstream Sudanese army, something Gen Dagalo loyalists fear would weaken him militarily and politically as well as the fighters themselves.

The bloody clashes in which Gen al-Burhan’s side deployed jets to double-down firepower to obliteratethe enemy has concentrated mainly in the central business district, with ground battles in built neighbourhoods and on streets leaving no winner. A gain by one side — such as capture of a military base or key state installation — has been either quickly reversed or cancelled out by losses inflicted elsewhere by the other, resulting in intensified propaganda.

In the precarious situation, Mr Ratib Bayiga, the chairperson of Ugandan Workers Association in Khartoum, said electricity was off in their hideouts and accessing food a gamble.

“As far as food is concerned, we are rationing, we have reduced [feeding] to one meal a day. We do not know when the situation will normalise,” he said before an internationally-demanded ceasefire got to a shaky start last evening.

The estimation of 300 Ugandans being caught up in the conflict is based on numbers of those registered either with the embassy or the association that Mr Bayiga heads.  The number of Ugandans in danger in Sudan could be much higher, one senior security official said, explaining that Ugandans avoid registering with diplomatic representations in host countries.

Among those stranded are 120 workers, 116 students, and 14 patients and hospital staff while 19 were in transit to Mecca and six on short visit to Khartoum. Officials were unable to specify particulars of the others.

Dr Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu, Uganda’s ambassador to Sudan, yesterday allayed growing fears at home about the fate of Ugandancitizens trapped in the conflict zone.

“Your people are alive and safe” in bunkers, he noted, despite the hotel of refuge being rocked by explosions.

In yesterday’s interview, Mr Bayiga said they had not received any report of a Uganda being injured or killed in the fighting, but everything remained tense.

“There is heavy fighting and bombing around the city and outside. We are about 120 workers in Khartoum, 120 students, six on short visit and nineteen Ugandans in transit who were going to Saudi Arabia. We are constantly communicating with the embassy,” he said.

Mr Muhammad Mutumba, the leader of the 19 Muslim pilgrims who were trapped in the Kabri Alsham Hotel in Khartoum, sent out an alarm of dwindling food rations.

“We don’t have power here,” he said, “We are still here at the hotel, we haven’t been taken to the embassy. Bombing is still going on [and] we don’t know when the situation will normalise.”

An uneasy calm returned late yesterday, with both sides holding back fire for an expected 24 hours as a start of good gesture to end fighting and return to talks.

Ambassador Ssemuddu had said that they would explore possibilities of evacuating Ugandans once the guns went silent and dialogue resumed.

The Uganda group was left stranded at Khartoum airport following the bombing of a plane that was meant to deliver them to the holy City of Mecca and Medinah in Saudi Arabia.

The individuals had decided to make a two-day stopover in the Sudanese capital, and planned to fly out on Saturday, the fateful day when clashes erupted.

Mr Muhamad Shaawal, the director of Al-shwaal Hijja and Umrah Ltd, the agency which handles the annual pilgrimage for Ugandan Muslims, asked the government of Uganda to rescue the trapped faithful.

Back in Parliament in Kampala, minister Mulimba yesterday disclosed that they had approached the International Organisation for Migration (lOM) to help return Ugandan nationals home.

His statement came a day after the Shadow Foreign Affairs minister and Kyadondo East Member of Parliament, Mr Muwada Nkunyingi, excoriated government for failing to repatriate its citizens.

“We urge the Ugandan regime, through the Foreign Affairs ministry and our mission in Khartoum, to immediately initiate diplomatic measures of rescuing the thousands of Uganda nationals caught up by the Sudan armed conflict,” he noted in a statement issued on Monday.

The Shadow Minister did not give the basis for his assertion that Ugandans stuck in Sudan numbered thousands.
“We accordingly advise Ugandan travellers to avoid travel to or through Sudan for now until the situation normalises. We encourage passengers to use alternative transit routes instead of Sudan airports or borders,” he added.


1.  Abdulwahab Sserunjoji
2.  Ssabbuti Kawuki
3.  Mohamed Kayemba
4.  Husinah Mutungutasi
5.  Aidah Nabukkera
6.  Isa Kawuki
7.  Sarah Nassimbwa
8.  Yusuf Musoke,
9.  Jamiidah Nakamya
10. Ali Kateregga
11. Ally Mwalimu Kibirango
12. Ibrahim Ssali Ssekajja
13. Fatuma Nakabugo
14. Abdulrahiman Kikubira
15. Kamida Kebirungi
16.  Shaban Kyanda
17. Fahad Sekayi
18.  Mutumba Muhamad
19. Mahadi Ssebunya


Daily Monitor