A humanitarian flight, loaded with eight tons of essential supplies, arrived in Sudan this Sunday to alleviate the critical health situation in the country. The aid, intended for 1,500 patients, is especially needed at a time when most hospitals have been inoperative due to clashes between two rival generals since mid-April.
A first shipment of humanitarian aid for Sudan. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a plane with anesthetic products, dressings, suture material and other surgical items landed this Sunday, April 30, in Sudan. The plane, which was also carrying specialized medical personnel, departed from Amman, Jordan, landing in the coastal city of Port Sudan, located 850 km east of the capital Khartoum.
Patrick Youssef, ICRC regional director for Africa, has assured that the humanitarian material that arrived in Sudan could save the lives of up to 1,500 wounded, due to the fighting that has been taking place since mid-April, especially in the two epicenters of the conflict: Khartoum , the capital, and Darfur, bordering Chad.
According to Youssef, the priority now is to deliver medical supplies to the most important hospitals in the region quickly and efficiently. The war between the Army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support (FAR) paramilitary forces under the command of Commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has left most hospitals out of service, further aggravating the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Relieved of the arrival of this first shipment of medical supplies.
The Red Cross/Crescent Movement is on the ground and our priority now is to deliver them to hospitals where they can save lives.
—Patrick Youssef (@PYoussefICRC) April 30, 2023
The main obstacle to the delivery of humanitarian aid in Sudan continues to be the difficulty in transporting supplies from Port Sudan to other cities in the country, which is under almost constant shelling. So far, the conflict has left more than 520 people dead. The ICRC has pointed out that, in order to send aid to the most affected regions, such as Khartoum and Darfur, a greater guarantee of security is required.
The precarious situation of Sudanese hospitals
As the war enters its third week, the challenges for medical personnel are daunting. Sudanese doctors estimate that the first step is to restore the supply of water and electricity and evict the fighters occupying some facilities. They say that alternatives are also needed for the more than 15 hospitals that have been bombed, as well as teams to replace the doctors who have sometimes been working for fifteen days.
“Only 16% of the hospitals are working in Khartoum, according to the UN, and the situation is catastrophic due to the lack of doctors and medical equipment,” warns Youssef, who recalls that “in normal times, a hospital must be replenished every two days, but in times of war, especially if, as now, the hospitals are looted and attacked, this period is shortened”.
The doctors also warn that resources must be found to care for “12,000 patients” who, without dialysis in hospitals where reserves are empty and generators are running out of fuel, “are at risk of dying.” “Chronic diseases are among our next priorities,” answers Youssef.
In the wake of fighting between armed groups in Sudan which started over a week ago, ongoing violence continues in many parts of the country. MSF teams on the ground report that hospitals are overwhelmed, and thousands of people are fleeing to safer areas.
—MSF Sudan (@MSF_Sudan) April 27, 2023
The Geneva-based international organization states that, first of all, “the ICRC is preparing the charter of a second plane to bring more medical aid and humanitarian personnel.” Youssef says he hopes this will open the way for other humanitarian organizations to help resolve the crisis as well.
On the other hand, the ICRC indicates that in Darfur the situation is “very difficult”. According to the UN, a hundred people have been killed since Monday in El-Geneina, the capital of the region, still scarred by the bloody civil war of the 2000s. The UN chief warned of a “terrible” situation in Darfur , where “society is falling apart” and “tribes are now trying to arm themselves.” “Armed violence between tribes” has caused the destruction of the city’s main hospital, according to the Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced that it has had to “halt almost all (its) activities (in Darfur)” because of the violence.
Despite the ceasefire agreements and the appeals of the international community, the fighting does not stop
Both the Army and the FAR agreed to a new ceasefire for the next three days. However, previous truces have been constantly interrupted by clashes between the two sides. While most foreign ministries have managed to repatriate their diplomatic staff and citizens, millions of Sudanese remain trapped in dire straits, dealing with shelling and anti-aircraft fire since the power struggle between Al Burhan and Daglo broke out.
Tens of thousands of people have been internally displaced or have embarked on journeys to neighboring countries such as Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The inhabitants who have not been able to flee the capital Khartoum are now trying to survive the bombing, but also the shortage of food, water and electricity.
Since the fighting began, no truce has succeeded in quieting the guns in Khartoum and other regions, especially Darfur.
Over the past weekend, witnesses have reported fighting near the army headquarters in Khartoum and airstrikes in Omdurman, a northern suburb of the capital.
“The fighting is very intense, shots are heard on my street every few minutes since dawn,” a witness told the AFP news agency. The situation is worrying and the international community continues to call for a way out of the crisis.
Despite these calls, no diplomatic solution is in sight for the moment between the two rivals.