In recent days, Al-Jazeera State, south of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, has transformed from a “safe paradise” to an area witnessing great destruction, a cessation of medical services, and a home to a humanitarian disaster and large displacements, after the battles spread to it and the Rapid Support Forces took control of it after the army forces withdrew from it.
In light of the tragic conditions, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned of the impact of the conflict on health services in the country, specifically referring to the outbreak of the cholera epidemic. A medical group also indicated that more than 3 million people are at risk of contracting the disease.
The office explained, in a statement on Tuesday, that the number of suspected cases increased by more than 100 percent over the past month, with reports of about 8,300 suspected cases and more than 200 deaths in nine states as of December 23, according to local and international data.
Gezira State alone has witnessed more than 1,800 suspected cases, at a time when the ongoing fighting is hampering response efforts and disrupting access to health services, which are already suffering as more than 70 percent of hospitals across Sudan have stopped working.
The Sudan Doctors Syndicate (preliminary committee) stated that disrupting all health services in the city of Wad Madani in the state of Gezira endangers the lives of hundreds of people infected with cholera in the treatment centers designated for this disease. It also added in a statement on Sunday entitled “War in the Time of Cholera” that more than 3.1 million People are at risk of contracting the disease in different states.
The union’s official spokesman, Muhammad Bashir, said in a phone call with Al-Hurra, “The health situation on the island is catastrophic and 80 percent of public hospitals are out of service.”
The two epidemics are spreading
The Rapid Support Forces, led by Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, advanced about two weeks ago and took control of one village after another on the highway linking the capital, Khartoum, to the city of Wad Madani in Gezira State. Indeed, on December 15, they attacked the city, prompting more than 300,000 people to flee again after it had been The city is a safe haven for those fleeing Khartoum to nearby areas, hoping to return soon to their homes in the capital.
Currently, the conflict has spread to areas in Sennar State, south of the island, and people have also quickly displaced to other states.
The Sudanese young man, Ahmed Al-Sadiq, started a youth initiative with the outbreak of fighting in Khartoum last May. It was called the “Sennar Emergency Room” to receive displaced people to his state from the capital and provide accommodation and food. But currently, he told the Al-Hurra website, “The displacement movement has begun.” Many people left the city in search of safer areas.
He added: “Most hospitals closed their doors, and food prices rose amid the displacement of merchants and citizens.”
“They looted everything.” Shocking testimonies from inside the Sudanese “Al Jazeera.”
Rapid Support personnel looted “everything” in Al-Aykoura in Al-Jazeera State, central Sudan, according to what a village resident says, as these forces advanced towards the south and opened new fronts in the war that has been ongoing for months with the army.
With the epidemic of fighting, displacement begins in large numbers, health institutions close their doors, and the disease epidemic spreads. Bashir explains, “With the outbreak of war in Khartoum, Wad Madani became a headquarters for medical supplies and most humanitarian organizations, and was transformed into a new capital, and hundreds of thousands of citizens were displaced.”
The situation changed with the arrival of the Rapid Support Forces and the expansion of the fighting. The exodus movement began to neighboring states, initially including Sennar, before the fighting got closer and closer. Citizens began to leave towards the east, such as Gedaref State, and from there to other regions, according to Bashir.
The Sudanese doctor explains: “With displacement, transmitted diseases such as cholera begin to spread, and in light of the collapse of the health system, the lives of patients are at stake. Most cholera, cancer, and heart patients were receiving treatment in Wad Madani, and with the hospitals out of service, their lives are threatened.”
For her part, the Director General of the Medical Sector in the Red Sea State in eastern Sudan, Ahlam Musa, said in statements to Al-Hurra TV, “70 percent of the health system is out of service as a result of the destruction of treatment institutions during the war. This is an important source and a major challenge in providing health services to all of Sudan.”
Epidemic and displacement syndrome
The World Health Organization described Gezira State as being the breadbasket of Sudan and a safe paradise for those displaced from the war in Khartoum, and explained in a statement this week that it had established an operations center in Wad Medani that serves Gezira State, Khartoum and other surrounding areas since the outbreak of the conflict.
She explained that the center was suspended last December 15 due to the fighting, and that it is currently working with partners to find alternative mechanisms to continue providing response and urgent health services to the Sudanese.
The organization noted that the suspension of health services “puts the lives of patients at risk, including hundreds of cholera patients in cholera treatment centers, as these centers will soon run out of medical supplies.”
The state of Gezira alone recorded more than 1,800 cases of cholera and 26 deaths, according to the organization, which revealed that “the gains achieved in confronting the outbreak of cholera in the state may be in vain, due to the cessation of the process of combating the disease and the presence of large cases of displacement, which threatens the further spread of the disease.”
War in Sudan.. The number of displaced people exceeds 7 million
The war that broke out in Sudan in April between the army and the Rapid Support Forces led to the displacement of 7.1 million people, according to what the United Nations announced on Thursday, describing it as “the largest displacement crisis in the world.”
Bashir continued his speech to Al-Hurra, and said that those receiving treatment for cholera in Al-Jazeera State in general are about two thousand people, adding, “There were 6 centers in the state for treating cholera, but most of them stopped working, and in light of the lack of treatment during the last period, there are certainly deaths that may occur.” occurred among patients.
He also pointed out that displacement is not an easy process for patients, as “the significant increase in the prices of fuel and means of transportation, and in the absence of safe corridors. There is targeting of vehicles, especially four-wheel drive vehicles, by the Rapid Support Forces, which increases the risk of the exit trip to obtain treatment for illnesses in the countryside.” regions of eastern Sudan.
Even in areas of displacement, there is suffering. Julia Adam, who is displaced from Khartoum and is in one of the asylum centers in Port Sudan in the east of the country, tells Al-Hurra TV: “I took my two daughters to the hospital, but Othman, my other child, was in a difficult condition and at the beginning of the cholera infection, but he was Taking care of him in the hospital.”
The woman lives in a university dormitory designated for displaced people, inhabited by about a thousand people. She explained that “most of them do not care about hygiene and health or are not able to do so.”
The United Nations said that there are more than 7 million displaced people in Sudan, including 5.5 million internally and 1.5 million others in neighboring countries.
Regarding the threat that cholera poses to more than three million Sudanese, Bashir said that this number was determined by his union “by studying the segment of society that suffers from malnutrition and identifying children, pregnant women and the elderly, and thus in the event of an outbreak of diseases and cholera specifically in Sennar, Kassala or Gedaref, which have witnessed an outbreak since For several months, and with the pressure on health facilities and the increase in displacement, the lives of more than 3 million people are threatened.”
He explained that his union’s accounts are only in eight states: Sennar, Gedaref, Kassala, Blue Nile, Red Sea, River Nile, Northern State, and White Nile.