SIHA: Gender-based violence surge in Sudan’s Sennar

SIHA Gender Alert

The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network has reported a surge in cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including rape, against women in Sennar and Singa, the capital of Sennar state. The report also indicates a large number of missing people, with estimates suggesting that 1,000 people, including 91 children, have disappeared since the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) seized control of Singa last week.

In a press release yesterday, SIHA reported that about 55,440 people have fled Singa, warning that the assistance provided is very limited, if not non-existent. Recent clashes in Sennar and Singa have further displaced people from Abu Hajar, El Dinder, and other areas in the state. Civilians are fleeing towards El Gedaref and other eastern states, but many remain unable to travel due to the continuous advance of the RSF, the network noted.

“As we have learnt from previous eruptions of violence, especially following the attack on El Gezira, host communities are already extremely overwhelmed with [displaced people] in addition to the fact that due to the dire economic circumstances’ assistance is extremely limited if not non-existent”, the network lamented.

In its latest update on Sunday, the Sudanese Missing People Committee counted 1,029 missing people since the RSF attack on Sennar state.


SIHA described the conditions of women who fled Sennar as “horrific”. Sennar, previously a centre for humanitarian aid and sexual and reproductive health care, had been a designated safe zone ever since the RSF attacks on El Gezira.

The network said it lost contact with service providers, including caseworkers in Sennar who were supporting pregnant women and survivors of SGBV. This loss means the cessation of emergency humanitarian assistance to women.

There is an urgent need for decisive support, including humanitarian aid, to save lives, alleviate suffering, and preserve human dignity. This support includes food, water, feminine hygiene supplies, and access to sexual and reproductive health care, including emergency services.

Humanitarian crisis

SIHA asserted that fighting in Sennar is creating a serious humanitarian crisis with dire effects on the Sudanese people, especially women and vulnerable populations. Sennar, an important commercial centre and a route between Port Sudan and the rest of the country, has played a decisive role in distributing humanitarian aid, the network said.

According to SIHA, implementing a gender-responsive civilian protection framework in Sudan and ensuring access to community-led humanitarian assistance with enforceable consequences for violations is imperative to putting an end to the systematic use of gender-based violence in the Sudan war.

The network further called for the establishment of an international criminal court, “akin to the Rwandan model”, to address war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan, promote accountability, and prevent future violence. It also urged pressure on the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) to stop the violence and to ensure “they have no role in Sudan’s governance”.