As conflict approaches day 6, WHO claims 330 Sudanese dead

After a 24-hour truce collapses in Khartoum, people escape their neighborhoods. (AFP photo)

The WHO reports 330 deaths from conflict in Khartoum and neighboring states, including Darfur.

Since a military power struggle between the Sudanese armed forces and a paramilitary organization triggered violent violence six days ago, the UN health service reported 3,200 injuries in Sudan on Thursday.

“The situation in Sudan is increasingly concerning and heartbreaking,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated on his Twitter account.

Ghebreyesus decried all deaths, especially civilian and healthcare attacks.

He was concerned about reports of soldiers occupying health institutions, saying such acts violate international law.

“The lack of safe access, electricity, food, water, personnel, and diminishing medical supplies are making it nearly impossible for many health facilities to function at the exact time when thousands injured need urgent care,” he said.

Ghebreyesus encouraged the sides to maintain the truce so people could seek refuge, healthcare, food, and medicine.

The chief of UNICEF also urged parties to uphold their international commitments to safeguard children and ensure humanitarians can rapidly reach them.

“Five days of intense hostilities in Sudan, and four failed ceasefires, have already taken a devastating toll on the country’s children,” UNICEF Director Catherine Russell said.

“If violence continues, this toll will rise.”

As fighting raged in Khartoum, Darfur, and North Kordofan, she said at least nine children were killed and more over 50 injured.

“We have received reports of children sheltering in schools and care centres while fighting rages around them, of children’s hospitals forced to evacuate as shelling moves closer, and hospitals, health centres and other critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed, limiting access to essential and lifesaving care and medicine,” she added.

Russell said the issue has disrupted life-saving care for 50,000 acutely malnourished youngsters who need 24-hour care.

“The fighting also puts the cold chain in Sudan, including over $40 million worth of vaccines and insulin, at risk due to power outages and the inability to refuel generators,” she added.

The WFP warned that violence might cause millions more to go hungry.

The violence prevented WFP teams from delivering emergency food, providing school meals, and preventing and treating malnutrition to 7.6 million people in Sudan this year.

Three UN staff members died in gunfire on Saturday, and two were severely injured.

WFP said its workers, offices, cars, equipment, and food stores were also targeted.

The WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is grounded.

WFP guesthouses, offices, and warehouses in Nyala, South Darfur, were overwhelmed and robbed, losing up to 4,000 metric tonnes of food.

UNFPA is concerned about pregnant women who need ongoing care and access to hospitals to safely give birth in Sudan, where the health system is approaching collapse.

UNFPA Regional Director Laila Bakur predicted 219,000 Khartoum mothers-to-be.

“We find that we can do very little in terms of provision of care, and they have not been able to access any form of safe delivery,” she said.

Bakur recounted a terrible UNFPA instance involving a pregnant mother who was shot in crossfire while trying to reach a hospital.

“Although she was rushed to the hospital—UNFPA is providing services even over the telephone in terms of guidance and telemedicine wherever it’s possible—we were able to save the child, the baby, but the woman sadly died,” she said.

“We’re very concerned that conflicting parties’ disregard for civilian life and medical care will lead to more cases like this.

“We truly wish, and ask all parties in conflict to respect international humanitarian law, particularly where access to healthcare is concerned,” the official said.