Islam, 21, was uprooted by conflict in Khartoum and now shelters at a refugee camp.
© UNHCR/Ala Kheir
Location icon Sudan

BTS fan dreams of a return to normality in Sudan

Islam Mubarak, 21, fled her home in Khartoum to escape the war. Now she lives in a camp for displaced people, hoping for the fighting to end.

Before the war, Islam was studying English Literature at Sudan University while working part-time at a perfume shop. In April, her employer gave her a week off during Ramadan to travel to Gedaref and visit her grandmother.

Eight months later, she is still there, waiting for the fighting to end.

“I never thought I’d be staying here with my mom, so I did not say goodbye to people.”

Now, she can no longer reach her friends or follow her favourite BTS band member, Jungkook, on social media.

“At the moment, the future is something I cannot see. It disappeared,” Islam said. “But if you asked me before, I could tell you what the future would be. I will complete my studies then go to South Korea to meet BTS.”

Islam says the band’s story and music resonate with her.

“I can compare it to my life in a small way because they also went through hardship until they became famous. They pushed themselves to learn and speak English and this is something that links me to them.”

“Our life in Khartoum was beautiful. But Gedaref is a place I don’t know. I keep thinking this is a dream and I will wake up tomorrow to find myself home.”

What is happening in Sudan?

Islam is among the seven million people displaced by the conflict in Sudan. Many have lost loved ones or are searching for missing family members. Homes, schools and hospitals have come under attack, and communities are facing food, water and fuel shortages. At the same time, healthcare facilities are under attack and medical supplies are running out.

The majority of displaced families are now living in camps across the country, relying on agencies like UNHCR to survive. More than one million people have fled to neighbouring countries and are living in refugee camps or at temporary sites near borders.

“The situation here is very difficult for displaced people. It’s hard to express it,” said Islam.

UNHCR teams are meeting refugees at the border and distributing life-saving aid including emergency shelter and relief items such as solar lamps, sleeping mats and kitchen sets. UNHCR is also providing vulnerable families with cash assistance and access to health services.

Islam volunteers at a local women’s centre. “Women come together to talk about issues that affect their lives, such as gender-based violence and how to support each other,” she said.

Islam remains hopeful that the war will end, and she will go back to Khartoum, continue her studies and return to her old life.

“I wish to meet Jungkook and take a photo with him. I feel that things will get better for me.”