The Italian family in Sudan Now we are afraid that

The Italian family in Sudan: “Now we are afraid that they will break in house by house. At night we are on guard”

Athos, 8 years old, sits in a corner of the kitchen wearing DJ headphones and eyes riveted on his cellphone. “I gave it to him myself today, he was surprised, but here we need a break from these continuous recordings.”

Mama Valentina speaks via video call a few meters away from him, dark circles marked, hair half-collected, the air dizzy. Artillery echoes can be heard in the background. Ten days ago, when she left Genoa with little Athos to join her husband Stefano, little did she know that she would find herself among the more than 200 Italians imprisoned in Sudan, in the midst of a war between the army and the paramilitaries. an aid worker like her in Khartoum. With them, locked in the kitchen while the fight rages on outside, are two other colleagues from Music for Peace, a Ligurian NGO that Stefano himself founded almost thirty years ago. In his “first life” he was the artistic director of clubs, turning point in 1994 with a kind of small Live Aid organized to collect essentials for the war-ravaged civilian population of Mostar. Hundreds of missions since then, but never has he felt more endangered than now.

He’s been barricaded in the house with his family and associates for a week and doesn’t think they’ll be getting out any time soon. ‘Except for a breather. Today, with the end of Ramadan, the fighters have recovered and the clashes have spread to our parts, between 60th, Amarat and Africa Road. And now we are in the middle of the fire », he intervenes. “Between stray bullets and loud bangs, we moved from rooms with windows to the outside to interiors like the kitchen to protect.”

We live with fear: “At night we jump at the slightest noise – confides Valentina. We take turns so that someone is always awake.’ The line falls. Let’s get back to talking without video. “Athos is with those on the alert, there is no way to put him to sleep, he closes his eyes late at night when exhausted.”

During the day we look for the appearance of normality between homework, cleaning and playing. “We play cards together, especially Cirulla and Uno.” Athos is in contact with the teachers and classmates, he has also recorded a video for them, in which he talks about his days in the trenches. ‘I woke up yesterday and my mother told me not to look out the window because they’re being bombed. Sudan is a poor country with no luck, children collect plastic to sell instead of going to school and that’s not right, we all have to be able to play,” he emphasizes in the video.

game and food. The shops are closed, but we have to stock up: «Our local friends bring me to the cellars to shop at very high prices. Oh, the power is back – shouts Stefano -. He comes in the morning for an hour and in the evening for one, then we use the generators, but the price of gas is also skyrocketing.”

Without electricity it is not possible to charge the mobile phone, which makes Athos fun and helps adults to stay in touch with the world. “Yesterday one of the two Sudanese telephone companies was closed, luckily we also had a subscription to the other. But with banks closed, online payments are down and we risk being cut off once data and voice credits run out.

A fear shared by Valentina: “Since yesterday we have been talking to another Italian family trapped in our neighborhood with two children, Amarat, let’s take heart.”

But the greatest fear is that of a civil war, “of looting and attacks from house to house”: “After Ramadan, the fight for power and gold will be joined by the fight for survival. And maybe also for democracy: there is a faction of the Civil society, which has stayed by the window these days, who knows that now».