Eight Killed and 18 Injured in Attacks on Sudan’s Healthcare System
Violence erupted between a paramilitary group and the armed forces in Khartoum on 15 April 2023.

There have been 46 attacks on Sudan’s healthcare infrastructure during which eight people have been killed and 18 injured, and two-thirds of the hospitals in affected areas are closed as a result of the heightened attacks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. 

Clashes erupted in mid-April in Khartoum between the country’s armed forces and a paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, currently deputy leader of the country’s Sovereign Council. The RSF appeared to attempt to stage a coup following conflict over the planned integration of the RSF into the Sudanese army.

“Overall, the greatest public health risks remain the ongoing violence resulting in trauma injuries, major disruptions to health care and repeated attacks on the health system, and poor access to clean water, sanitation and food, increasing the risk of malnutrition and water- and vector-borne diseases,” said the WHO in its first situation report on the conflict.

“According to the Preliminary Committee of Sudan Doctor’s Trade Union, 67% (60 out of 89) of all main hospitals in affected areas were out of service as of 31 May,” the report pointed out. 

“The 29 hospitals operating fully or partially (some providing emergency medical services only) are at risk of closure due to shortage of medical staff, supplies, water, and electricity.”

Among the healthcare assets compromised in the violence are the National Public Health Laboratory, and the Federal Ministry of Health’s National Medical Supply Funds Warehouse. 

Condemning the continued attacks on healthcare facilities, workers and assets, the WHO urged the parties in the conflict to uphold ceasefire agreements, in order to “guarantee the safety of humanitarians and safe passage of humanitarian aid in the country as well as protection of health workers and health facilities to ensure health facilities remain functional and accessible, and supplies are delivered without impediment so the population can receive the health care they need and deserve”.

Since 15 April, 866 people have been killed across the country, and over 6000 people have been injured. At least a million people had fled, including over 250,000 people who have taken refuge in neighboring countries. 

The WHO had earlier flagged the occupation of the National Public Health Laboratory, which housed a wide variety of chemical and biological materials, and disease pathogens, and added that it was conducting risk assessment around the situation. 

The agency added that the revised Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) needs $2.6 billion to help the people in Sudan and that 24.7 million people were in need of humanitarian aid. WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) has released $3.6 million towards emergency response in the region, days after violence erupted. 

On 21 May, the RSF and the Sudanese military agreed to a seven-day ceasefire agreement in Jeddah to allow delivery of humanitarian aid to the affected people in Khartoum and regions torn by violence.  Although the warring parties agreed to extend the ceasefire by another five days, intense clashes were reported in Khartoum a day after the extension was agreed upon. 

Image Credits: UN Human Rights.

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