Conflicts & War

Sudan fighting death toll 180-plus, hundreds trapped in Khartoum hospitals

(Update 1: Reledes, updates casualty figures, adds text and info)

By Al Nur al Zaki

Khartoum, Apr 17 (EFE).- The gunfire, bombardment and attacks on hospitals in Khartoum and in northern and western Sudan have been ongoing since the rebellion erupted here three days ago. The combat has left hundreds of patients trapped inside local hospitals and they are living with the corpses that cannot be removed due to the intensity of the clashes outside.

“We’re asking at least to get permission to bury the dead and evacuate the patients trapped in the hospitals, and to transfer them to more secure centers farther from the fighting,” Razan al Dawri, the spokesperson for the Sudan Doctors Union, told EFE.

Al Dawri said that the hospitals in her country lack practically everything, from personnel and medical supplies to blood for transfusions. But since the clashes between the Sudanese army and the powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF) are not stopping, she is asking only that human dignity be respected amid the turmoil.

In that regard, she is calling for a 72-hour humanitarian truce so that people can bury their dead.

Al Dawri said that many patients have died in Khartoum hospitals, which these days are jammed with people and are difficult to access due to the road closures and the bombardments, which are continuing for the third consecutive day in the city’s downtown area.

The conflict has so far resulted in some 180 civilian deaths and more than 1,800 wounded – according to the special United Nations envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes – but the majority of the bodies in the hospitals are those of patients who died from other causes and which are awaiting much-needed removal and burial.

Al Dawri said that the attacks against health centers represent “a violation of international law and human rights,” and she lamented the fact that the doctors’ union can do little more than call for a truce to guarantee the safety of the patients.

On Monday, several hospitals were targeted in attacks in the capital. At the Ibn Aouf children’s hospital, near the army headquarters, where intense fighting is under way, there are “dozens of trapped children,” a situation that also exists at many other medical centers.

The Al Khartoum public hospital, which treats cardiac and respiratory diseases, has been put “completely out of service” because power outages are preventing patients from being connected to respirators and complicated surgery cannot be done.

And in dozens of other medical centers, the fact that healthcare personnel cannot get to work and the lack of medical supplies are taking a toll on patient care.

At Best Care hospital, in southern Khartoum, director Yaafar Edris told EFE that if the conflict continues they will be “forced to suspend work and evacuate patients due to electricity cuts for the third consecutive day and the exhaustion of fuel to power the electric generator.”

What concerns Edris the most, however, is that 10 patients urgently needing surgery are having to wait, and their operations cannot be guaranteed in any case because the “medical supplies will not last more than two days.”

“This is a threat to their lives, if we can’t operate on them,” he said.

Maternity wards and gynecological hospitals are also facing a multitude of problems helping women give birth amid the prevailing scenario of widespread death.

At the Dream hospital in eastern Khartou, gynecologist Saleh Abdelazim told EFE that over the past few days many women who had appointments for Caeserians that cannot be performed and others have had to try and give birth naturally, but none of them have been able to get to the hospital because they can’t safely cross through the war zone.

“The hospital doesn’t know the fate of the pregnant women who could not get here, despite the fact that it was their time to give birth,” he said.

In addition, Perthes, the UN envoy, said that over the past 48 hours, the offices and warehouses of the World Food Program, UNICEF and other UN agencies “have been in the crossfire, have been looted and destroyed in Darfur,” adding that “the fighting has continued almost uninterrupted. It’s a very fluid situation, and so it’s difficult to say which way things will go.”

RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, has urged the international community on Twitter to intervene against the forces of Sudan’s de facto president and commander-in-chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, whom he called a “radical Islamist who is bombing civilians from the air.”

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