Roundup: Warnings raised about risks of escalating violence against health personnel, facilities in Sudan's El Fasher-Xinhua

Roundup: Warnings raised about risks of escalating violence against health personnel, facilities in Sudan's El Fasher

Source: Xinhua| 2024-06-24 02:59:30|Editor: huaxia

KHARTOUM, June 23 (Xinhua) -- As the armed clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) rages on in El Fasher city in western Sudan, warnings have been raised about the dangers of escalating violence against health personnel and facilities in the city.

Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), one of the few international humanitarian organizations still present in El Fasher, warned that hospitals continue to be attacked, and that no outside help can reach the city due to the intensity of the violence.

"In El Fasher, we are seeing a cycle of offensives and counterattacks where hospitals are not being spared and the warring parties are failing in their responsibilities to protect civilians," said Michel-Olivier Lacharité, head of MSF's emergency operations, in a statement on Saturday.

"Since the fighting began six weeks ago, over 260 people have been killed and over 1,630 wounded -- these figures include women and children. We do not know if hospitals are being deliberately targeted, but their protection is an imperative that must be respected," he said.

Lacharité urged the warring parties to protect civilians and hospitals and enable safe access so as to ensure life-saving assistance to people in El Fasher, saying "we urgently need to bring in more supplies and more personnel to be able to respond to this crisis, but the fighting is preventing us from being able to enter."

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Khatir, director-general of North Darfur State's health authorities, accused the RSF of systematically targeting health personnel and facilities in El Fasher.

"The RSF's systematic targeting of health services aims to put health institutions or the health system out of service. This is an immoral goal," Khatir told Xinhua on Sunday.

He stressed that a number of hospitals in the city have already stopped working due to the RSF attacks, noting that only the Saudi Hospital was still operative though it was attacked two days ago.

In the meantime, during the past 72 hours, Sudan has witnessed a significant escalation in violence against medical personnel and health facilities, as two doctors, a pharmacist, and a medical volunteer were killed in separate incidents, according to the Preliminary Committee of the Sudan Doctors Syndicate.

The RSF assassinated the medical director of Um Dawan Ban Hospital, Dr. Omer Al-Sayed Mustafa, at his home east of the capital Khartoum, while Dr. Molhem Mohamed Imam was killed in an RSF bombardment on Al-Huda city in central Sudan, the committee, a non-governmental organization, said in a statement on Sunday.

Ashraf Abul-Majd, a medical volunteer, was killed inside Al-Nao Hospital in Omdurman as a result of an RFS artillery shelling on the hospital, the committee said, noting that Dr. Amna Ahmed Bakhit, a pharmacist, was killed in an artillery attack by the RSF on the Saudi Hospital in El Fasher on Friday night.

"Attacks on medical personnel constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, which protects medical personnel and health facilities in armed conflicts," the committee said.

On Thursday, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the ongoing attacks on health care in Sudan as "appalling."

"Such violence impacts entire communities, depriving them of lifesaving health care, which is already a scarce resource due to the conflict," Ghebreyesus said on the social media platform X.

He called for stopping the attacks on health facilities, protecting civilians and health workers, and work for peace in Sudan.

Mediations led by the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, an east African bloc, and Saudi Arabia and the United States have not succeeded in ending the Sudanese armed conflict, which has entered its second year.

Recently the African Union decided to form an Ad-hoc Presidential Committee, comprising one Head of State and Government from each region of the continent and led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, to facilitate face-to-face engagements between the leaders of the SAF and the RSF, demanding unconditional ceasefire.

Sudan has been embroiled in a deadly conflict between the SAF and the RSF since April 2023, which has claimed more than 15,550 lives and displaced over 8.8 million people nationwide, according to estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.