Sudanese Seek Refuge, Find Support in Chad

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“Please take the children and run away. You must save them.” These are the last words Zara Hassan Mahmoud’s husband spoke to her before he passed away in their home in the Sudanese city of El-Geneina in June 2023.

Zara was six months pregnant and caring for the couple’s five other children when armed rebels broke into their home and shot her husband three times that day.

“He was bleeding so much,” she says. “He begged me to leave with the kids, but I refused to leave him alone. Shortly after, he breathed his last in my arms.”


Sudanese refugee holding bucket

Zara Hassan Mahmoud holds a bucket she received during a distribution organized by Caritas Mongo in the Chadian border town of Adre.

Photo by Mabel Chenjoh/CRS


“Once the rebels left, my neighbors helped me to bury my husband and by 6 p.m. I took a few of my belongings and left with the five children,” Zara says. “We could only move at night because during the day the rebels would attack us. We trekked for three nights with little or no food or water. It was difficult, I thought I was going to lose my pregnancy.”

More than 370,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad for safety since fighting escalated between warring parties in West Darfur in April 2023.

When they finally crossed the border, Zara and her children were welcomed by the residents of the Amkharouba II village in the border town of Adre.

“Since this year 2023 started, we have been receiving people from Sudan every day,” says Musa Idriss, the village leader. “They arrive hungry, sick and worn out, and some are wounded. We welcome them with open arms and offer them food to eat and we share what we have with them. We give them land to build their shelters and clothes too.”


Sudanese refugee holding bucket

Zara Hassan Mahmoud uses a bucket she received during a distribution organized by Caritas Mongo in the Chadian border town of Adre.

Photo by Mabel Chenjoh/CRS


While welcomed by the residents and receiving some initial support such as food and clothes, Zara and her children have been depending on periodic distributions from humanitarian organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services and our partners Caritas Chad and Caritas Mungo, to survive. In November 2023, shortly after she gave birth to her daughter, Zara was selected by a team from Caritas Mongo to receive assistance thanks to funding via the Caritas Internationalis Emergency appeal.

Through these efforts across several resettlement sites, 1,500 families—including Zara’s—have received pots, buckets, mosquito nets, mats, blankets, tarps, water storage containers, salt, cooking oil, millet and beans.

“I am very happy today. I am so grateful,” says Zara as she collects her items during the distribution. “The children and I sleep on mats and the nights are very cold. This blanket will keep us warm. The food will help us very much.”

Zara Hassan says she will never return to Sudan. Today, she works odd jobs around the community to earn money to take care of her six children. She is looking toward the future now, hoping she can save enough to start a small trade in the market.


The Emergency Response to Sudanese Refugees, Chadian Returnees, and Host Communities in Eastern Chad aims to meet the needs of affected families, particularly in the areas of food security and essential household items. With funding from CordAid, Caritas Spain, Caritas Italy, Caritas Korea, Caritas Japan, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Internationalis, CRS in Chad is partnering with Caritas Chad and Caritas Mongo to support 1,500 affected families from September 2023 to June 2024 through three rounds of distributions.