from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM, (CAJ News) – ATTACKS on health infrastructure, which have left at least 12 health care personnel and sciences students dead, is a dampener to the ceasefire agreed by the warring parties in Sudan.
The health sector is bearing the brunt of the conflict that broke out on April 15 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital, Khartoum.
A ceasefire was agreed on Monday this week.
The most recent situational report, released on Wednesday by the Preliminary Committee of Sudan’s Doctors’ Trade Union, reports 295 deaths among civilians and 1 790 civilian casualties.
According to these reports, 19 hospitals have been forced to evacuate in Khartoum and surrounding cities.
Some 59 out of a reported 82 hospitals in Khartoum and surrounding cities are non-operational.
At least six ambulances have been fired upon, while others have been prevented from transporting injured or critically ill patients.
As of this week, only 15 out of 81 primary care centers are reportedly operational in Khartoum State. Six dialysis centers out of 24 are out of service.
Some eight Sudanese and international health and human rights organizations have condemned the continued attacks on hospitals and health care amid the escalating conflict in the country.
The organizations include Sudanese American Physicians Association, Sudan Doctors Union – Canada, Sudan Doctors Union – UK, Sudanese Doctors Union of Ireland, Sudanese Doctors Association in Qatar, Physicians for Human Rights, Insecurity Insight and Jonathan Mann Global Health as well as Human Rights Initiative, Drexel University.
They called on combatants to commit to an immediate, permanent cessation of hostilities, the protection of civilians and safe passage for medical personnel, ambulances, and hospitals to ensure that civilians can access critical health care services.
The organizations jointly warned that more hospitals and medical facilities faced the imminent threat of shutdown due to critical shortages of medical personnel, supplies, water and power as well as the risk of further attacks.
“Injured or ill civilians are unable to access hospitals due to the dire circumstances,” said Kevin Short Deputy Director, Media and Communications at Physicians for Human Rights.
“The crisis is at risk of spiraling and millions of people face a looming health and humanitarian emergency,” he warned.
“All parties to the conflict are obligated under international humanitarian law to guarantee access to medical supplies and relief organizations offering medical care.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that while the news of the ceasefire in Sudan was welcome, the attack on health infrastructure had escalated with the occupation of hospitals in Khartoum and Sudan’s central public health laboratory by parties to the conflict.
“I urgently appeal to all parties in Sudan to immediately vacate all health facilities and to not hinder Sudan’s critical public health functions,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Director General for Africa.
The envoy said the greatest risks to health in Sudan remained the violence, non-functioning of multiple hospitals and clinics, limited access to clean water, food shortages and forced displacement of populations.
“Health is a human right,” she reminded.
“The provision of health care, including the vital work of laboratories, must be assured,” Moeti reiterated.
The international community and international organizations have been urged to act swiftly to secure safe passage for civilians fleeing the war and prepare shelter, food, and medical services for internally displaced people and refugees at the borders of Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that as many as 20 000 people fleeing the violence in Sudan have arrived so far in Chad, a country that shares a 1 400km-long border with Sudan.
“The majority of those arriving are in dire need of basic humanitarian aid, namely food, water and adequate shelter,” explained Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.
Since the conflict, more than 400 people have been killed and around 4 000 injured.
Prices of food, fuel and other basic goods are noted to have skyrocketed, making critical goods unaffordable.
The country has been uneasy since the ouster in 2019 of longtime leader, Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial on genocide crimes.
– CAJ News