Sudan timeline April-June 2021: Waves of violence continue, international debt relief brings hope for economic upturn

The second quarter of 2021 has highlighted many challenges still facing Sudan’s transitional government, however in spite of ongoing incidents of insecurity and violence in Darfur and other areas, as well as a lack of agreement between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia on the filling and running of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the past three months have offered many optimistic milestones in Sudan’s transition.

Conflicts between Sudan and Ethiopia over border, Renaissance dam, while bloodshed within both countries continues - Cartoon by Omar Dafallah (RD)

The second quarter of 2021 has highlighted many challenges still facing Sudan’s transitional government, however in spite of ongoing incidents of insecurity and violence in Darfur and other areas, as well as a lack of agreement between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia on the filling and running of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the past three months have offered many optimistic milestones in Sudan’s transition.

Several rounds of negotiations have failed regarding the filling of the GERD, and the status quo at the end of June was that Ethiopia began the controversial second filling of the dam without any agreement being reached with Sudan and Egypt.

Sudan government talks with SPLM-N El Hilu began in Juba, but numerous waves of violence erupted in various parts of Darfur, claiming lives and property. These incidents often highlighted the vacuum left after the final withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) as the last base in Central Darfur was handed over.

Sudan’s third wave of COVID-19 infections continues, as authorities repeatedly encourage the public to get vaccinated and take precautions. The COVID-19 Emergency Committee took measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including the suspension of studies in universities and schools.

Historically, the Council of Ministers announced that they would hand those accused of Darfur war crimes to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, further boosting Sudan’s image in terms of international cooperation. Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, who is already in custody in The Hague, heard that he will face 31 charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

However, there was much tentatively optimistic news on the economic front, as Sudan’s re-entry into the global financial fold, heralded by swaths of international debt relief in acknowledgment of reforms achieved thus far, has moved into overdrive, particularly after the country secured much international support at the Paris Conference. The World Bank and the IMF have cut Sudan’s debt by $50 billion and pledged $2 billion for development projects in Sudan.

Sudan's currency – Cartoon by Omar Dafallah (RD)


Timeline Sudan, April – June 2021

April: Negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam break down again, a new wave of violence hits West Darfur’s El Geneina and surroundings

April 1: Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, Vice-President of the Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia*, enacts a new law concerning ‘false recruitment’ by armed movements that signed the Juba Peace Agreement on October 3, 2020.

April 2: The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) signs a new Declaration of Principles with the Sudanese government in the South Sudanese capital Juba. Following the appointment of a new chief in El Sareif Beni Hussein in North Darfur, bloody clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of the new official.

April 3: Sudan’s Minister of Finance discusses the requirements for the re-entry of western banks to operate in the country with the US envoy for Sudan. The International Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders requests ‘urgent intervention’ to stop judicial harassment of a woman activist in Khartoum.

April 4: Sudan’s FA Minister and the Minister of Water Resources travel to Kinshasa, capital of Congo for renewed talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

April 5: The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) says it will join the peace process. Sudan closes the Sudanese-Ethiopian border crossing in El Gedaref following attacks by Ethiopian gunmen on Sudanese security forces.

A woman walks through El Geneina following violent attacks in January (RD)


April 6: A new wave of violence in West Darfur’s El Geneina takes at least 56 lives. Negotiations between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu and Khartoum are scheduled to start on April 25 in Juba. In Kinshasa, Sudan calls for a different strategy for the Ethiopian dam talks.

April 8: During the Gum Arabic Forum, launched in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, in the presence of PM Abdallah Hamdok, participating associations highlighted key issues faced by their workers. Sudan demands replacement of Ethiopian soldiers deployed in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) as tension at the Sudanese-Ethiopian border in El Gedaref continues.

April 9: According to the governor of West Darfur, 132 people have been killed during the recent ‘treacherous attacks’ on El Geneina. He said the attackers belong to ‘well-known militias’ affiliated with the former Al Bashir regime. In Khartoum, a number of women’s groups demand the abolition of gender-discriminating laws.

April 10: The UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) field site in Sortony is handed over to the North Darfur authorities, as part of the withdrawal of the peacekeeping force from Darfur. The West Darfur Doctors Committee warns of more violence in and around the capital of West Darfur. Three people are killed in continuing South Kordofan violence.

April 12: Sudanese police in Khartoum and Omdurman disperse demonstrators denouncing poor living conditions and the continuous power and water outages. One dead as gunmen shoot at a group of displaced watching football in Kalma camp in South Darfur.

April 14: The head of the Sovereignty Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, currently visiting El Geneina, pledges to enhance security in West Darfur. The third wave of COVID-19 infections shuts schools in eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref.

April 15: Medics raise alarm on medicine shortages in the country. The Sudanese Minister of Religious Affairs warns of the spread of COVID-19 during Ramadan prayers.

April 16: Displaced Masalit in West Darfur reject the outcomes of the mediation headed by El Burhan, head of the Sovereignty Council. They hold the paramilitary RSF responsible for the recent attacks on El Geneina and its surroundings,

April 17: The Ministry of Health sounds the alarm about the growing number of tuberculosis cases in the country. A shortage of oxygen at hospitals in Sudan is compelling medical facilities to transfer patients between states.

April 20: Sudan’s third COVID-19 wave continues. Protests against the neglect of bodies of protesters in Khartoum mortuaries. Sudan calls on UN Security Council to break GERD talks deadlock.

April 21: Chad’s President Idris Déby dies: Sudan govt sends condolences, appeals for calm. The governor of West Darfur declares El Geneina a disaster area and calls on aid organisations to provide water and health care. New COVID-19 cases are recorded in five Sudan states.

April 23: The Sudanese government agrees on regional governance for Darfur. PM Abdallah Hamdok announces the cancellation of the Dal and Kajbar dam projects in northern Sudan. Inflation in Sudan rose to 342 per cent in March.

PM Abdallah Hamdok and Abdelaziz El Hilu (RD)


April 25: Women’s issues are put on the agenda for SPLM-N El Hilu-Sudan peace talks. According to a recent report of the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment, only 12 per cent of the Sudanese have ‘decent work’. The New Humanitarian states that the war is far from over in Darfur’s rebel-held mountains.

April 26: The proposed new Internal Security Agency Bill has provoked angry reactions from various parties in Sudan’s political spectrum. Two protesters are seriously injured during an attack on the sit-in in front of the El Tamiz Hospital mortuary in Khartoum.

April 27: Protests against water outages and insecurity are staged throughout Sudan. PM Hamdok confirms that Sudan’s government will work to build a unified national army. While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Sudan, flights from India are suspended.

April 28: Sudan calls on medical staff and vulnerable groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine.

April 29: South Kordofan violence resurfaces as dozens are killed or wounded in tribal clashes. Police does not act. The Deputy Director of the Emergency and Epidemiology Department of the Ministry of Health describes the country’s health system as “weak and limited in capacity”.

April 30: Sudan’s mainstream SLM says it is ‘not interested’ in negotiations with current government. The Health Ministry warns of overcrowding as COVID-19 cases rise and the health situation is ‘dire’.


May: Sudan secures international support at the Paris Conference, UNAMID hands over its last sites in Darfur to the Sudanese authorities, the peace talks between SPLM- El Hilu and the Sudanese government move slowly but steady

May 1: Citing the volatile security situation, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations requested a six-month rollover of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) mandate in the Abyei region disputed by Sudan and South Sudan.

May 3: PM Abdallah Hamdok announces that rebel leader Minni Minawi has been appointed as Governor of Darfur. Gunmen continue to wreak havoc in North Darfur’s Kutum. The North Kordofan Health Emergency Committee declares a State of Health Emergency in response to the sharp rise in COVID-19 infections.

May 4: On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Sudanese journalist networks called for more press freedom.

May 6: Doctors raise alarm over medicine shortages, lack of funding, insecurity, and an ‘impending health disaster’. The joint UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) hands its last site in South Darfur to the authorities in Nyala. North Darfur’s Saraf Omra witnesses a ‘resurgence of violence’.

May 7: Armed robberies continue in South Kordofan. Christians in Sudan can ‘still not believe the (positive) changes’.

May 8: Last UNAMID base in Central Darfur handed over.

Sudanese women demanding the ratification of CEDAW, Khartoum, January 2, 2020 (Morwan Ali / EPA)


May 10: The Sudanese Fiqh Academy bars the planned ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The No to Oppression of Women Initiative calls for the dissolution of the Academy.

May 11: The Khartoum Health Ministry announces it is monitoring 12 COVID-19 cases from India. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) takes ‘critical step’ towards Sudan’s debt relief. The US Dollar reaches ‘unprecedented highs‘ as the end of Ramadan approaches. The Council of Ministers approves the establishment of a gold stock market and an agricultural crops stock market.

May 12: Two young men are killed in front of the army command in downtown Khartoum, when army forces disperse a group of people commemorating the violent dismantling of the Khartoum sit-in two years ago.

May 13: Sudan government to charge those responsible for the violence against protesters in downtown Khartoum.

May 15: Washington calls for resumption of Ethiopian dam talks with Sudan and Egypt.

May 16: Sudan to discuss debt relief, investments in Paris conference, organised to support the transition in Sudan and encourage investments and partnerships.

May 18: Sudan secures international support at Paris Conference.

May 19: Sudan’s international debt arrears are cleared. This news slightly strengthens the Sudanese Pound. The ongoing lawlessness in El Geneina leads to closure of the city markets.

The Eiffel Tower was lit in the colours of the Sudanese flag during the Paris Conference (Social media)


May 20: The COVID-19 Emergency Committee takes measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including the suspension of studies in universities and schools for one month. Radio Dabanga interviews PM Abdallah Hamdok in Paris.

May 21: African, Sudanese NGOs raise the alarm bell over the Ethiopian dam dispute. The Sudanese Pound continues to fall despite optimism after Paris Conference. Sennar reports a ‘remarkable increase‘ in COVID-19 cases. The Sudanese Ministry of Transport plans to rehabilitate sea, land, and air transport.

May 23: Minni Minawi, the upcoming governor of Darfur, calls on the government to immediately pay the ‘peace dues’ for Darfur in accordance with the October 2020 Juba Peace Agreement. Sovereignty Council member Aisha Mousa resigns as she refuses ‘to participate in degradation of Sudanese people’.

May 24: Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb faces 31 charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

May 25: The World Bank promises $2 billion for development projects in Sudan.

May 26: Sudan government talks with SPLM-N El Hilu begin in Juba. A joint military force is deployed in Nyala, in a ‘preparatory step’ in the South Darfur capital to improve security in the state. The Director of Information in Khartoum is arrested for alleged involvement in leaking information to ‘an active group affiliated to the ousted Al Bashir regime’.

May 27: Amal Clooney pleads at the ICC on behalf of the Darfur victims of Ali Kushayb.

May 28: Volker Perthes, Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), warns that conflict and gender-based violence threaten Sudan’s stability. More than 150.000 newly displaced people around El Geneina do not feel safe enough to return.

May 30: Sudan government and SPLM-N delegations adjourn talks to consider draft agreement. Angry protests follow deadly market attack in West Darfur’s Foro Baranga.

May 31: Sudan government-SPLM-N negotiations resume in Juba. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visits Darfur. Sudan receives $23.6m for support of its national parks, ecotourism.

Bensouda meets with displaced people in Kalma Camp, Darfur (ICC)


June: Sudan will continue the liberalisation of its economy, fierce tribal clashes erupt in South Kordofan, still no agreement reached on the new Ethiopian dam (GERD).

June 1: ICC Prosecutor Bensouda meets with displaced people in Darfur.

June 2: The Ministry of Agriculture as well as UN agencies call for more investments in Sudan’s agriculture and humanitarian assistance. More Sudanese will face acute food insecurity in the near future.

June 4: June 3 Massacre is peacefully commemorated with calls for justice and investigation results. SPLM-N El Hilu peace talks in Juba continue in ‘positive spirit’.

June 6: Joint security force seizes weapons and ammo in South Kordofan.

June 8: Juba peace signatories criticise the slow implementation of security arrangements and call for a unified armed force. PM Hamdok stresses the importance of a multilateral agreement on the Ethiopia dam (GERD). A former UNAMID site in North Darfur is looted. Two people are killed.

June 10: Sudan and Egypt express ‘deep concerns’ overfilling of GERD.

PM Hamdok during a meeting of Sudan's GERD Committee (Social media)


June 11: Finance Minister says Sudan will continue the liberalisation of its economy.

June 13: South Kordofan government describes the situation after tribal clashes in Gedir as ‘dangerous’. Aid agencies reach communities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile for the first time in 10 years.

June 14: The Council of Ministers approves the new Trade Unions Law.

June 15: Sudan’s first turbine to harness wind energy in Northern State.

June 16: The Sudan government-SPLM-N El Hilu peace talks are adjourned to hold consultations on contentious issues. The mandate of UNITAMS is extended for a year. PM Hamdok pledges to address obstacles to Sudan’s economic reforms.

June 17: More deaths as Kordofan witnesses renewed tribal conflict.

June 21: Six more dead as tribal violence escalates in South Kordofan.

June 23: PM Hamdok calls for unity to address ‘comprehensive national crisis’ in Sudan. The EU launches a €10 million programme to support economic transition by strengthening Sudanese institutions.

June 24: Sudan Airways and Lufthansa sign an agreement for development of the Sudanese airline. The Chairman of the Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, denies ‘rumours targeting the security system‘.

June 25: Financial analyst Hafiz Ismail disagrees with the current economic policies.

June 27: The Council of Ministers agrees to hand those accused of Darfur war crimes to ICC. Armed Forces of Sudan and Egypt to strengthen cooperation. The US State Department lauds Sudan’s ‘great progress’ in financial transparency.

June 29: More than 70 people are arrested, on suspicion of illegal foreign currency speculation. The UNAMID peacekeeping mission drawdown from Darfur is completed.

June 30: The World Bank and the IMF cut Sudan’s debt by $50 billion. Dozens of affiliates of the deposed Al Bashir regime arrested in KhartoumClampdown in Khartoum on knives, edged weapons, and unlicensed motorcycles.

More timelines:

Sudan timeline January-March 2021: Holdout rebels in from the cold, Sudanese pound devalued, COVID-19 vaccine roll-out begins

Sudan timeline October-December 2020: Peace accord signed, COVID second wave bites, security fears as UNAMID withdraws

Sudan timeline July-September 2020: Public anger at slow implementation of revolution, floods devastate communities countrywide

Sudan timeline April-June 2020: Covid-19 marks all aspects of life, inflation soars

Sudan timeline Jan-March 2020: Little relief to the country’s economic, security woes 

Sudan timeline Oct-Dec 2019: Interim government put to the test

Sudan timeline July-Sept 2019: Turbulent transformation from tyranny

Sudan timeline Dec. 2018-April 2019: How did civil discontent propel Sudan towards the overthrow of Al Bashir?