With the crisis escalating in Sudan, there have been 15 reports of attacks on healthcare workers and health facilities
since last November, the World Health Organization (WHO
) said on Wednesday.
According to WHO
’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari
, the Organization is following the escalating crisis “with great concern”.
So far, 11 incidents have been confirmedin the capital, Khartoum, and other cities.
“Most of these attackswere committed against healthcare workers in the form of physical assault, obstruction, violent
searches, and related psychological threats and intimidation”, said Dr. Al-Mandhari.
A Protester holding the Sudanese flag, in Khartoum, Sudan., by Salah Naser
At least twoof the confirmed incidents involved raids and incursions by military personnel on facilities, he said.
Others includedarrests of patients and workers, as well as injury, detention and forced searches.
“These targeted attacks on healthcare workers, patients and facilities are a flagrant violation of international
humanitarian law and must stop now”, added the WHO official.
Reports of increased attacks, come against the backdrop of widespread and continued protests across Sudan, over the full
military takeover, last October, ending transitional civilian power-sharing arrangements.Suspension of services
Dr. Al-Mandharisaid is also aware of the interception of ambulances, personnel and patients during their attempts to
The UN agency is concerned about how these actions severely restrict access to healthcare, which is especially
problematic with the COVID-19
pandemic and other public health threats.
The incidents have already resulted in the suspension of emergency services in some facilities. Some patients and
medical personnel have also fledwithout completing medical treatment.
“Health care workers who have taken a professional oath to save the lives of others must be allowed to work without fear
or concern for their personal well-being or that of their patients”, said Dr. Al-Mandhari.
stilla significant threat, and people at risk of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, measles and hepatitis E,the
agency says it is “imperative” that the health sector continues to function unimpeded.
WHO called for an immediate cessation of all activities that endanger the lives of health care workers and patients or
impede delivery of essential health services.
The regional agency head also called on the authorities to enforce implementation of Sudan’s Law on the Protection of
Doctors, Medical Staff and Health Establishments, approved in 2020, and to comply with international humanitarian law.
Patients in a wating room of a health facility in Sudan., by © UNICEF
/Hussein Mohammed Sabir
For Dr. Al-Mandhari, “the sanctity and safety of health care…must be respected and remain neutral, even within a highly politicized context.”Cases going up
WHO believes the number of incidents is cause for great concern, especially as the country documented a relatively low
number of incidents in previous years.
There was only one in 2020 and, in 2019 - despite the widespreadsocial and political unrest surrounding the overthrow of
former ruler Omar al-Bashir - only seven were registered.
Last year, the country recorded 26 attacks of this type, with four deaths and 38 injuries of healthcare workers and
Most of the incidents were direct assaults on workers, which is an unusual pattern compared to other countries.
In collaboration with the Sudanese Federal Ministry of Health and partners, WHO is working to ensure that hospitals
continue to operate.
The Organization has trained dozens of doctors and medical staff in all states. It has also distributed, with the
support of partners, several new ambulances.
Since the end of October, the agency has distributed 856 rapid response kits to Khartoum and other priority states,
enough to cover the needs of 1.1 million people for three months.