Over four million people have been displaced by the Sudan crisis, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday, voicing concern over the conflict’s effects on healthcare services.
As the number of displacements increases, the UNHCR “is deeply worried about deteriorating health conditions across the country, including in refugee camps,” William Spindler of the agency said at a UN press briefing in Geneva.
“The situation inside Sudan, where UNHCR teams are present, is untenable as needs far outweigh what is humanly possible to deliver with available resources,” Spindler said.
In the state of White Nile, health and nutrition services in all 10 refugee camps are severely affected due to the shortage of essential medicines, staff, and supplies, he said and noted that over 144,000 newly displaced refugees have arrived from Khartoum, joining thousands of South Sudanese refugees and local communities who use these clinics.
Spindler stated that the total number of displaced individuals includes 700,000 refugees and asylum-seekers who fled to neighboring countries, as well as 195,000 South Sudanese who were forced to return to their home country.
He added that within Sudan, over three million people have been internally displaced, which include 187,000 refugees who already resided in the country at the beginning of the crisis.
“As many families have been on the move for weeks with very little food or medicine, rising malnutrition rates, disease outbreaks, and related deaths continue to be observed,” he said.
He underscored that over 300 deaths, mainly among children under 5 years, were reported due to measles and malnutrition between May 15 and July 17.
Lack of essential medicines, staff, and supplies is severely hampering health and nutrition services, he said.
In addition, severe cholera and malaria are expected in the coming months due to flooding, he warned.
Since the conflict started in April, the health and nutrition status of those coming into South Sudan and Chad from Sudan has rapidly declined and is still deteriorating, he said, adding the situation across borders is equally “grim.”
Regarding the attacks against healthcare professionals and institutions, Christian Lindmeier from the World Health Organization, said that 53 attacks occurred against the healthcare sector between April 15 and July 31.
Lindmeier urged that attacks on health care or “gross violation” of international human rights must stop and added: “Humanitarian workers need assurances of safety and security while delivering critical humanitarian and health response.”
Sudan has been ravaged by clashes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces since April, in a conflict that killed more than 3,000 civilians and injured thousands, according to local medics.