These are old pictures unrelated to recent Sudan floods

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Various photos purporting to show recent flooding in Sudan have been shared hundreds of times online. However, AFP Fact Check found the images were circulating before the Sudan floods and taken in other countries. 

The photos have been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook since September 6, 2020. They purport to show victims of catastrophic flooding in Sudan, which has triggered a state of emergency and affected at least 650,000 people since the start of rains in July. 

More than 110,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by floodwaters, according to the government, increasing the risk of water-borne diseases and hampering efforts to stem the spread of novel coronavirus

One of the photos circulating online, archived here, was posted on the Instagram page of Egyptian news site ElDostor, on September 6, 2020.

The image shows a woman holding up an object above the water while swimming through heavy floods, with Arabic text written across that reads: “Sudanese woman holding up her medicines in the middle of floods”.

The caption on the Instagram post reads “our hearts with our brothers in Sudan”.

Screenshot of the misleading Instagram post, taken on September 12, 2020

The picture has become one of the symbolic images of the floods in Sudan. An illustration based on the photo has also been widely shared on social media in posts expressing support for the victims of the disaster.  


The photo was shared on various Facebook pages, including here, here, and here, alongside the claim that it shows “the last photo of the Sudanese martyr who drowned in the floods”. 

However, the photo has nothing to do with recent floods in Sudan. AFP Fact Check ran a reverse image search and traced the picture to Getty Images stock photo archives. According to the caption, the photo was taken on July 31, 2013, and shows a woman swimming in floods in Panta, India. 

Screenshot of the picture on Getty Images, taken on September 14, 2020

Man and child

Another photo was posted on Facebook here on September 7, 2020. It shows a man holding up a child on his shoulders in heavy floods. 

Part of the Arabic caption translates to: "The picture is from the floods of Sudan, and we wish the people in Sudan safety."

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 12, 2020

A cartoon version of the same photo was published on the Facebook page of Jordanian TV channel, Roya on September 7, 2020. The caption reads: “From my heart, peace to Sudan, a hashtag trending on Twitter”. The post also includes a link to an article on their website about the floods in Sudan featuring the image.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 14, 2020

The photo was also shared on Facebook here, here, and here by people showing solidarity with the victims of the floods in Sudan. 

However, a reverse image search traced the photo to an article from October 30, 2007, about flooding in Cité Soleil, Haiti on the United Nations website. Thousands of people fled their homes due to a catastrophic storm that hit Haiti in 2007 and caused floods and major damages. 

Screenshot of the photo on the UN multimedia website, taken on September 14, 2020

Young girl

Another photo published on Roya’s Facebook page on September 9, 2020, shows a girl standing in front of tents in a flooded area. The Arabic caption translates to: “The brotherly Sudanese people are going through a disaster. Oh God, have mercy on this beautiful country and lift its good people from the harm that befell them and conceal them with good.”

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 14, 2020

The same claim was posted on Facebook here and here

A reverse image search revealed that the same photo was published in an article on the website of the International Displacement Monitoring Center in May 2018.

According to the article, the photo was taken in April 2018, Baidoa, Somalia. The UNHCR reports that the heavy river floods in the Southern region forced more than 280,000 people to flee their homes.  

Screenshot of the photo on the IDMC website, taken on September 14, 2020

People swimming

Another photo posted on Facebook on September 9, 2020, shows two people swimming in a flooded residential area. The caption on the post claims the picture was taken in Sudan.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 14, 2020

The same photo was posted here, here, and here with the same claim.

However, the same photo was found in an article from January 26, 2020, about flooding in Brazil on the website of British news channel Sky News. At least 45 people lost their lives because of the heavy rains that thrashed the southeast of the country over two days.

Screenshot of the photo on the Sky News website, taken on September 14, 2020

Flooded streets

Another photo circulating online was posted on September 11, 2020, and purports to show flooded streets in Khartoum, Sudan. 

The same photo was posted here, here, and here with similar claims. 

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 14, 2020

A reverse image search led to a photo of floods in the US city of New Orleans on August 29, 2005, published on the website of the US Department of Defense. The floods --  sparked by Hurricane Katrina, the deadliest storm in US history-- submerged about 80 percent of New Orleans.

Screenshot of the photo on the US department of defense website, taken on September 14, 2020

Elderly woman

This photo was published on Facebook on September 7, 2020. It shows a man carrying an elderly woman in a flooded area while other people are crossing the flooded streets. “Sudan floods 2020”, the caption reads 

The photo was also posted on Facebook here with the same claim. 

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 14, 2020

However, the claim is false. The photo was already circulating online a month before the floods in Sudan. A reverse image search led to various articles on Palestinian news site Palestine Online on August 9, 2020, and on Egyptian news site Sada Al Balad  on August 10, 2020, showing floods in Ethiopia in August 2020.