Nearly 330 killed, 3,200 injured in Sudan after 6 days of fighting
(Update: recasts with WHO casualty toll, press conference, conclusion of evacuation of Egyptian soldiers)
Cairo, Apr 20 (EFE).- Nearly 330 people have been killed and 3,200 injured in Sudan since a military power struggle between the Sudanese armed forces and a paramilitary group sparked violent clashes six days ago, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
The fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued despite both parties agreeing to a new 24-hour truce Wednesday.
The toll includes casualties from fighting “between government and armed opposition forces in Khartoum and other states, including those in Darfur,” WHO Eastern Mediterranean regional director Ahmed Al Mandhari said during an online press conference.
Mandhari also called on “all parties to put in place a sustained humanitarian pause as soon as possible so that people trapped by the fighting can seek refuge.”
“Reports of sexual assaults on international aid workers are also very worrying,” he added, “as are reports of attacks on health care, including assaults on health workers, military occupation of hospitals, looting and hijacking of ambulances”.
Al Mandhari said the lack of security was restricting movement in the capital Khartoum, hampering efforts by doctors, nurses, patients and ambulances to access health facilities, and endangering the lives of those needing urgent medical attention.
To date, 20 hospitals have been forced to close due to attacks or lack of resources, and eight other health centers are at risk of closure due to staff fatigue or lack of doctors and supplies, the Omani official said, citing the Sudan health ministry.
However, the Sudan Doctors’ Union said that 70% of hospitals in Khartoum and the states surrounding the conflict were out of service.
The WHO also noted that “multiple disease outbreaks are currently circulating in the country, including measles, poliovirus, the first-ever outbreak of dengue fever in Khartoum and an increase in malaria cases across the country”.
Before the current crisis, 15.8 million people in Sudan – a third of the population – were in need of humanitarian assistance, with the WHO warning of “a traumatic deterioration of what is already a very difficult humanitarian situation”.
Meanwhile, Egypt announced that dozens of its soldiers who were on a training mission at a base north of Khartoum and were captured by RSF forces on Saturday had returned home.
A total of 27 Egyptian soldiers arrived Thursday at the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum before being repatriated, with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the mediation of the United Arab Emirates, the RSF and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.
Those soldiers were flown home after three military aircraft landed at a military base in northern Sudan on Wednesday to repatriate “most of the soldiers of the Egyptian force,” an Egyptian army spokesman said.
The Sudanese army on Wednesday confirmed the evacuation of 177 of the Egyptian air force soldiers who had “surrendered” to the RSF as the fighting broke out on Saturday, adding that they were evacuated via Dongola airport, 400 kilometers north of Khartoum, where the international airport is completely out of service because of damage to the runway and the clashes in the vicinity.
Egyptian president Abdelfatah al-Sisi said on Tuesday that Egyptian troops were in Sudan as “a symbolic force” for joint “training” with the Sudanese state and “not to support one side against the other”. EFE