WHO Calls for Unrestricted Access to Health Care amid Fight in Sudan

By Fidelis Rukwaro

As fighting intensifies in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls for all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality of health and unrestricted access to health care for all.

In a press statement by WHO, it is reported that since 13 April, more than 83 people have been killed and more than 1126 people injured across Khartoum, South Kordofan, North Darfur, Northern State, and other regions, with the heaviest concentration of fighting now taking place in Khartoum City.

Yet, movement in the city is restricted due to the insecurity creating challenges for doctors, nurses, patients, and ambulances to reach health facilities, and putting at risk the lives of those who need urgent medical care.

At the moment, supplies distributed by WHO to health facilities prior to this recent escalation of conflict are now reportedly exhausted and many of the nine hospitals in Khartoum receiving injured civilians are reporting shortages of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids, medical supplies, and other life-saving commodities.

There are also reports of shortages of specialized medical personnel, including anesthesiologists. Water and power cuts are affecting the functionality of health facilities, and shortages of fuel for hospital generators are also being reported.

WHO is therefore monitoring the health needs and resources across Khartoum and other affected cities to ensure that limited supplies are directed to where they are most needed.

As the situation evolves, WHO continues to work with partners and health authorities to fill gaps in the provision of health care, especially for trauma care, while also ensuring the safety of our own staff and their families.

WHO therefore reminds all parties of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to protect the wounded and sick, civilians, health care workers, ambulances, and health facilities.

Volker Perthes, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan and Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission (UNITAMS) strongly condemned the attacks insisting that civilians and humanitarians aid workers are not a target following reports on attacks and looting of UN and other humanitarian premises in Darfur.

The UNITAMS chief said that these actions of violence interrupt the provision of life-saving aid, and need to end. “When incidents like this occur, it is women, men, and children in desperate need of assistance who suffer the most.

Stressing the importance of humanitarian access, the UN Security Council has urged the warring parties to ensure the security of personnel in order to allow humanitarian assistance to affected people.

Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), at the Under-Secretary-General level has also urged all parties to come to an agreement to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers as it is impossible for them to operate safely and effectively with the threat on the WFP teams.

“WFP is committed to assisting the Sudanese people facing dire food insecurity,” Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), at the Under-Secretary-General level said, “but we cannot do our lifesaving work if the safety and security of our teams and partners are not guaranteed.

This comes after the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) aircraft was damaged at Khartoum international airport during a gunfire exchange curtailing WFP’s ability to move humanitarian workers to aid within the country. The altercations within the country have also led to the death of three WFP staff according to a statement issued by the UN. This has brought a suspension of all WFP activities in Sudan.

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