Journalist detained in Darfur, UK travel advisory warns of kidnapping risk in Sudan

Prison cell in Zalingei, Central Darfur (File photo: Albert González Farran / UNAMID)

Media representatives in Darfur have condemned the detention of Sudan TV journalist Ahmed Jamam, who was detained in El Fasher two weeks ago. Several organisations have condemned the many detentions across Sudan by all parties to the conflict, and the UK Foreign Office has highlighted the risk of criminal kidnapping in an updated travel advisory.

In a statement yesterday, the Darfur Media and Journalists Association say that journalist Ahmed Jamam was detained by a force from the Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Darfur Governor Minni Arko Minawi (SLM-MM) in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

Sudan TV journalist Ahmed Jamam
(Photo: Supplied)

Jamam works for Sudan TV, and when the war broke out between the Sudanese Armed Foirces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum, he moved to El Fasher and continued to send reports to Sudan TV until his detention, the association says.

The statement quotes a family member, who says that they have communicated with leaders of the SLM-MM, but their calls did not succeed in securing their son’s release.

The association condemns Jamam’s detention, and call on the movement’s leadership to release him immediately. It also calls on human rights and justice organisations defending journalists to pressure his captors to release him.

The association affirms its solidarity with Jamam, and its readiness to provide any human rights assistance that would contribute to his release.

Sudan Media Forum

Media activity has been severely curtailed across Sudan following the outbreak of the current hostilities in April 2023. The Sudan Media Forum, a coalition of independent media outlets and organisations, including Radio Dabanga, laments that “all press and media institutions operating inside the country ceased operations, journalists have been displaced and lost their jobs. This interruption of professional and field news coverage has created a ‘media blackout’ across the country.”

File photo: RD

Speaking on behalf of the forum in May, Radio Dabanga Editor-in-Chief Kamal Elsadig told an online panel discussion entitled The War in Sudan: What impact on media freedom? organised by the Sudan offices of United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNESCO, in celebration of World Press Freedom Day, that “the effects of the war are not limited to restricting freedom of the press. Both parties to the conflict are waging a propaganda war that has created media chaos. The respective warring parties and their agents have created dozens of websites, and fake accounts on social media platforms, to control the flow of information and spread false and misleading news, hate speech, and racism.”


Radio Dabanga has reported a litany of detentions across Sudan by several parties on all sides. Most recently, security forces launched widespread search campaigns in Kosti and the state capital Rabak, 17 km northeast of Kosti, seemingly aimed at pursuing collaborators with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This included a partial closure of the market in Rabak. Several activists, as well as members of political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs), were detained by security forces.

Radio Dabanga previously reported that Kosti and Rabak in White Nile state have both witnessed intensive search campaigns by security agents in the past few weeks, seemingly looking for specific people in the markets. Last week, National Umma Party (NUP) member Mahmoud Zayed was detained by Military Intelligence in White Nile state.

Travel advisory

The prevalence of detentions in Sudan, including criminal kidnapping for ransom, enforced disappearances, and detentions of activists, and professionals, targeting aid workers, healthcare workers, volunteers, and journalists, has not gone unnoticed by the international community.

British evacuees from Sudan disembark at Lanarca in Cyprus in April 2023 (Photo: UK Gov)

In a Travel Advisory update for Sudan yesterday, the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) warns: “There is a high threat of detention, including kidnapping, enforced disappearances and unlawful arrest across Sudan. There have been a number of recent incidents where British nationals and other westerners have been detained against their will… humanitarian aid workers and journalists are viewed as legitimate targets.”

Since the start of the war in April 2023, and the subsequent emergency evacuation of many foreigners, The UK’s FCDO has advised British nationals against all travel to Sudan.

As Doctors Without Borders (MSF), we protect both medical personnel and patients. Healthcare workers should not be threatened, assaulted, manipulated, detained, or hindered from doing their medical duties’ – (Quote and sketch: MSF)

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) reported in May that both the SAF and RSF are targeting specific groups of activists, lawyers and journalists. The report further explains how torture and prolonged incommunicado detention, particularly by the RSF, targeting suspected members or affiliates of opposing factions, as well as ethnic minorities.