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Sudanese artist paints war time emotions to protest Sudan's war

Abdelrahman Abdalla (2nd R), 63, showcases his artworks during his exhibition called “Dark Tears” at the Fendika Cultural Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 16, 2023.   -  
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A Sudanese artist who escaped the conflict in Khartoum presents an art exhibition in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of his reflection on the ongoing effects of the conflict in Sudan.

Four months into Sudan's conflict, the situation is spiralling out of control, with mass displacement and millions on the verge of famine, humanitarian organisations warned 

"I've been here for a month and did these paintings because I have a lot of feelings to express about the war and what happened to us. I have a lot of time now. It is not like when I was home, having to go to the market to buy things... Now my full time is just for painting this project that I called ‘Dark Tears’. It represents the way I feel about the darkness that is happening in Sudan," saidAbdelrahman Abdalla, a Sudanese artist.

Abdelrahman Abdalla says that his art is "to express what is happening in Sudan," and to help the world understand how damaging a war is to the people, culture and history.

"It (arts) is to express what is happening in Sudan, and it is to help also. When you see it, it will help you to see what is going on the human mind, human pictures, human anatomy, some painting are distorted, a lot of distortions of the city, a lot of distortions of the human faces, human figures. It is exactly what is happening in the war. So people can get a message from this if it is visual message or psychological message to see something has happened to this human beings."

Supporting artists has become almost  monumental because Sudanese art is undergoing a renaissance especially with the ongoing conflicts.

"It expressed his feeling about his country in simple ways. All of the art that you see here is related to sorrow, frustration, and depression; that is what I see as an artist. The colors are dull, and you don’t see bright colors," expressed Akililu Mengistu, President of Ethiopian Painters and Sculptors Association.

- The story so far -

Since Sudan's conflict erupted on April 15, the country has been plunged into a dire humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations also warning of arbitrary killings and rampant sexual abuse.

In a joint appeal, the heads of 20 global organisations pointed out that "more than six million Sudanese people are one step away from famine".

"The situation is spiralling out of control," said the statement, signed by the heads of numerous United Nations agencies, along with organisations including Save the Children and CARE.

The signatories pointed out that more than 14 million children need humanitarian aid and over four million people have fled the fighting, either within the war-ravaged country or as refugees to neighbouring states.

At the same time, they warned, "time is running out for farmers to plant the crops that will feed them and their neighbours".

They decried the lacklustre international response four months into the fighting between Sudan's army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

- 'No excuse' -

"There is no excuse for waiting," said the statement, pointing out that two appeals for aid to help some 19 million Sudanese "are just over 27-percent funded".

"Please change that."

The UN said it so far had received just a quarter of the $2.57 billion it has appealed for to help people inside Sudan, and just 31 percent of the $566 million requested to help those who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries.

The signatories assured the people of Sudan that their organisations would "continue to push for access to all people and in all areas of Sudan to bring humanitarian supplies and essential services".

They called for an "immediate cessation of hostilities", and demanded that the parties to the conflict "grant us safe and unfettered access" to provide desperately needed aid.

They highlighted reports of widespread attacks on civilians, looting of humanitarian supplies, targeting of aid workers, civilians assets and infrastructure, including hospitals, and the blocking of humanitarian assistance.

Such acts, they warned, "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity".

The UN human rights office said its figures, which are surely an undercount, indicate that more than 4,000 people have so far been killed in the fighting, including 28 humanitarian and health workers and 435 children.

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