Despite an agreed-upon truce, fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of Sudan are ongoing. And the latest news is that a national health facility that stores measles and cholera pathogens for vaccine production has been taken over by one of the warring parties.
Reuters reported that the United Nations’ (UN) World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the situation to have a “high risk of biological hazard” following the laboratory seizure, which occurred after more foreigners and locals fled the volatile capital city of Khartoum.
The WHO did not provide any details as to which side of the fight captured the biolab, which also contains a major blood bank for Sudan. All we know is that there has been a mass exodus from Africa’s third largest country, exacerbating fears that any civilians who choose to remain will be in danger once the three-day truce comes to an end on Thursday.
“The clashes have paralysed hospitals and other essential services, and left many people stranded in their homes with dwindling supplies of food and water,” media reports state. “The WHO has reported 14 attacks on health facilities and is relocating staff to safety.”
(Related: There are dozens of Pentagon-run biolabs in Ukraine that are being used to create deadly bioweapons.)
Political coalition calls on humanitarian groups to help restore water and electricity in Sudan
The U.N. humanitarian office (OCHA) announced that shortages of food, water, medicines, and fuel are becoming “extremely acute” while prices for basic goods such as bottled water are skyrocketing.
The situation is getting so bad that Yassir Arman, a leading figure in a civilian political coalition called the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) issued a public plea for humanitarian groups and the international community to do whatever it takes to help restore water and electricity in Sudan, as well as to get much-needed generators to local hospitals.
“There are bodies scattered in streets and sick people who cannot find medicine, no water nor electricity,” Arman said. “People should be allowed to bury their dead during the ceasefire.”
It is expected, according to the UN, that hundreds of thousands of people will end up fleeing Sudan into neighboring countries, potentially creating problems there as well.
Many of these people say they feel abandoned with nowhere else to go as they await what could become even more conflict and bloodshed in the days to come.
“Why is the world abandoning us at a time of war?” complained 27-year-old Sumaya Yassin, who further accused foreign powers of being selfish.
“Sudanese people are afraid that there might be unethical practices in the war against civilians and using civilians as human shields,” added another man from Khartoum who called himself Ahmed. “These are our fears after the evacuation of expatriates.”
Since the fighting first erupted on April 15, tens of thousands of Sudanese people have already fled for neighboring Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, even though conditions in these places remain uncertain.
Khartoum, meanwhile, has become a ghost town with very few people still waiting there to see what happens.
“There is nothing left in stores, no water, no food,” one person said. “People have started to go out armed, with axes, with sticks … The situation has become very dangerous, including in areas not under bombardment.”
At the lab that was taken over, the WHO’s Nima Saeed Abid said that technicians from the National Public Health Laboratory were thrown out, which has left the facility in a precarious position.
“And there is high risk of biological hazards because in that lab we have already isolates, we have measles isolates as well as cholera isolates,” Abid warned.
More related news can be found at Bioterrorism.news.
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