Sudan's body count is rising fast and opposing forces seem hell-bent on starting a full-scale war, but the world must not abandon the people of this struggling nation, writes Shameet Thakkar.
With each passing day my fears grow for Sudan - and for its people. Right now, it’s impossible to say with certainty how many people have been killed or injured. Latest official UN figures say at least 528 people have perished and 4,599 have been injured.
But hospitals only record those who die in hospitals or whose bodies are brought in. This means the death tolls are no doubt well above the actual number.
And as the disturbing situation continues to evolve, the country’s health system is crumbling to pieces.
Sudan’s people are in need of humanitarian aid now, and more are going to lose their lives. I am sad to say there's no end in sight to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, regardless of how the conflict develops.
Though the ceasefire has allowed many to escape, the future for those who remain looks dire. The health of countless individuals is at risk. The core issue is this: Sudan’s population was in desperate need of aid before the start of the conflict.
The damage to Sudan’s healthcare facilities as a direct result of the conflict is nothing short of disastrous. With hospitals having shut down or being unable to function properly, addressing the needs of Sudan’s population is going to be even more problematic.
The lack of healthcare commodities and resources in the country is not insignificant. Millions of individuals were unable to access essential medical services even prior to the conflict, with many dying from preventable or treatable conditions.
And those who are able to receive care are often attended to by workers with inadequate knowledge or skills, contributing to the fragility of the healthcare system.
We need to remember that the humanitarian crisis in Sudan doesn’t just mean its population can’t access food and clean water. As much as these are the immediate priority, lack of medical care is equally problematic in the short and long term.
There’s no denying that Sudan’s population was already suffering from a healthcare crisis driven by a range of socioeconomic and political factors. But this is now deteriorating at a concerning pace.
Other factors are also now playing a role in exacerbating the precarious situation, with lack of access to clean water leading to illness or infection, and robbery and looting causing body trauma and injuries.
The conflict has caused many to find shelter in camps, and this may only facilitate the spread of diseases. From what I’ve seen and heard, these shelters don’t have adequate facilities to cover the health needs of the population.
Lack of sanitation contributes to the spread of diseases such as cholera, meaning that many may die even if they are lucky enough to escape the direct consequences of the attacks.
More alarmingly still, the displacement of Sudan’s people is only aggravating the fragile circumstances of neighbouring countries, which are not equipped to cope with the additional strain of hosting hundreds of thousands of people in need of care.
It is not just Sudan that’s suffering as a result of the conflict. The healthcare systems of surrounding countries are already at capacity, and fears concerning this are just as legitimate.
Ultimately, the problem is that we are unable to get aid into the country. There’s no safe passage for volunteers and healthcare workers, and allowing for this is essential.
Countless people are going to lose their lives in the next 24 hours – the speed at which healthcare situations can deteriorate is simply frightening.
The ceasefire does not mean populations are safe. Until we find a way for external aid to reach Sudan, there will be no respite for its population. The world must not look away.