Khartoum Church Becomes Haven Amidst Sudan’s War, Facing Hunger and Bombardment

In the heart of Khartoum’s war-torn al-Shajara district, the Dar Mariam Catholic mission has become a sanctuary for about 80 women and children caught in the crossfire of Sudan’s ongoing conflict. Led by Father Jacob Thelekkadan, the mission faces dire circumstances as food supplies dwindle and bombardments intensify.

The compound, bearing scars of the conflict with bullet-riddled walls and fire-damaged quarters, shelters mostly Christian refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia. As supplies run low, inhabitants resort to boiling tree leaves for sustenance, with adults often skipping meals to prioritize the children.

Attempts to evacuate the mission have proven perilous. A Red Cross rescue effort in December ended in tragedy, with two dead and seven wounded after coming under fire. Father Thelekkadan and the nuns refuse to leave without the families, despite offers from the army for their evacuation.

The mission’s predicament reflects the broader humanitarian crisis in Sudan, where millions have been displaced and famine warnings have been issued. As fighting between the army and Rapid Support Forces continues, the inhabitants of Dar Mariam pray for safety and await a chance for evacuation, their resilience tested daily by hunger and the constant threat of violence.