Enduring without food, electricity and water

WWhilst foreign governments are gradually bringing their nationals to safety, the humanitarian situation for the civilian population remaining in Sudan continues to deteriorate. According to the United Nations, more than 420 people have been killed and more than 3,700 wounded since fighting broke out between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) nine days ago. Thousands are on the run.

Meanwhile, millions of Sudanese are stuck in their homes in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees to protect themselves from explosions and bombings, many without food, electricity and water. Eyewitnesses reported looting and raping by the military.

According to the monitoring service “NetBlocks”, there was also an almost complete collapse of the Internet and telephone connections in the capital Khartoum on Sunday and Monday, which made the exchange of information even more difficult. The Sudanese army accused the RSF of having sabotaged the lines.

Dramatic situation in the hospitals

The situation in the hospitals is also dramatic. Numerous clinics had to stop working due to the fighting, and some came under fire themselves. The remaining clinics are overcrowded, and here, too, there is a lack of medicine, water, electricity – and staff who hardly dare to go out into the streets because of the fighting. For the same reason, injured people often cannot reach the facilities; Paramedics, nurses and doctors have little access to the wounded on the streets and in residential buildings.

The violent conflict in Sudan is affecting a population that was already under massive threat before the escalation. According to the United Nations, every third resident of the north-east African country is dependent on humanitarian aid, and almost 40 percent of children under five are malnourished. At the moment, between harvests, food is particularly scarce.

Bettina Iseli, program director of Welthungerhilfe, therefore considers it urgently necessary to negotiate safe access and humanitarian corridors with the conflicting parties as quickly as possible in order to be able to provide the population with the essentials. Like many others, her organization has had to pause work since fighting broke out. Around 200 employees are still on site, most of whom come from Sudan themselves.

People try to help themselves

Some managed to escape to less contested areas, others were housed in “safe rooms” – rooms with at least two walls in each direction from which fire could be fired. In those parts of the country where it is still possible, Welthungerhilfe wants to resume its work as quickly as possible. Without aid organizations, the danger of a “downward spiral of hunger and need” for the Sudanese population increases with each passing day, according to Iseli.

Meanwhile, in Khartoum and other cities, people are trying to support each other on a small scale as best they can. Members of the pro-democracy movement, already well organized beforehand, have banded together to distribute local supplies of food, water and medicine. Elsewhere, surgeons and medical staff have joined forces to provide first aid to injured people who are at risk of death.

An easing of the situation is currently not in sight. The ceasefire that the conflicting parties agreed on Friday evening at the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, was only partially observed. The RSF said on Monday that the armed forces had carried out airstrikes on the Kafouri neighborhood north of the capital Khartoum. The army initially did not comment on the matter.

Eyewitnesses repeatedly reported shots and explosions throughout the day. The temporary lull in the fighting should come to an end on Monday evening. Many feared that the fighting would then intensify massively again – including Bettina Iseli from Welthungerhilfe: “We hope to continue, but we expect the worst.”

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