Fierce fighting in Khartoum takes toll on people, diplomats
Khartoum/Geneva/Karuizawa/Beijing: Sudan’s Ministry of Health Emergency Operations Center today reported 270 people have been killed and more than 2600 people have been injured in the violent fight between the country’s military and paramilitary forces since April 13, 2023. While three workers from the World Food Programme were also killed. The heaviest fighting is currently in the capital city of Khartoum.
The movement has been restricted due to insecurity, creating challenges for health workers and ambulances, to reach health facilities, and putting further lives at risk. Hospitals in Khartoum receiving injured civilians are reporting shortages of medical personnel and lifesaving medical supplies. Fuel shortages for hospital generators, as well as water and power cuts, are also reportedly affecting the functionality of health facilities.
There are reports of some health facilities being looted and others being used for military purposes. It is also reported that some hospitals are already closed, or on the brink of closure, due to attacks, and a lack of medical personnel and medical supplies.
“The supplies that WHO distributed to health facilities prior to this recent escalation of conflict are now exhausted,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, told media persons in Geneva today.
He said health care facilities and workers must never be a target, especially in a situation like this where there are thousands of civilians who need access to emergency care.
“I want to be very clear; all parties must ensure unrestricted and safe access to health facilities for those injured and everyone in need of medical care…I urge all sides to heed the calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, to silence the guns and to work towards a peaceful resolution,” he said.
The WHO D-G assured that WHO teams on the ground will continue to work closely with the partners and health authorities to try and fill gaps in the provision of health care, especially for trauma. WHO called on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law.
In Karuizawa in Japan, the United States Secretary of State Antony J Blinken said today morning he had called up the two warring Generals – General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo aka Hemetti of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, urging them to agree to a 24-hour ceasefire to allow Sudanese to safely reunite with their families and to obtain desperately needed relief supplies.
Blinken who was in Karuizawa to attend the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, disclosed that for the past 36 hours, the G7 was focused on how to stop the widespread fighting in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. “Indiscriminate military operations have resulted in significant civilian deaths and injuries, and are recklessly endangering the Sudanese people, diplomats including U.S. personnel, and humanitarian aid workers,” he said. Blinken further confirmed that yesterday an American diplomatic convoy was fired on in Khartoum.
He said, “all of our people are safe and unharmed. But this action was reckless, it was irresponsible, and of course unsafe – a diplomatic convoy with diplomatic plates, a U.S. flag, being fired upon”. He said in the calls that he had this morning with Generals Hemedti and Burhan, he made very clear that any attacks, threats, and dangers posed to the US diplomats were totally unacceptable.
“This particular incident is still being investigated in terms of understanding exactly what happened. The initial reports that we have is that it was undertaken by forces associated with the RSF, and again, I made very clear in my conversation with General Hemedti that any attacks that endanger our diplomats are totally unacceptable, and I shared the same with General Burhan,” he said.
The US is also in very close coordination with other countries that have influence in Sudan. “I’ve been on the phone with counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, to make sure that we’re coordinating carefully. Our team as well has been in very close contact with the African Union, with other international organizations – again, to make sure that everyone is coordinated and that we are channelling the shared determination among the international community to get to a ceasefire as quickly as possible and to put Sudan back on the track of talks, negotiations, again, to restore a civilian-led government in Sudan,” Blinken said.
The director and a teacher of a Confucius Institute at the University of Khartoum were also controlled by soldiers with guns but were rescued. Offering details, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the moment the Chinese Embassy in Sudan learned the predicament of the two teachers from the Confucius Institute, it took immediate action and engaged in close communication and coordination with relevant parties of Sudan. ‘The two teachers have now returned to safety and have been transported to a relatively safe place,” the Chinese foreign ministry stated.
– global bihari bureau