PanamaTimes

Monday, Apr 22, 2024

‘Huge biological risk’ as Sudan fighters occupy lab: WHO

‘Huge biological risk’ as Sudan fighters occupy lab: WHO

UN officials said Tuesday that one side in the Sudan conflict has seized control of a national health lab in the capital of Khartoum that holds biological material, calling it an “extremely dangerous” development.
The announcement came as officials warned that more refugees could flee Sudan despite a cease-fire between rival forces.

The fighting has plunged Sudan into chaos, pushing the already heavily aid-dependent African nation to the brink of collapse. Before the clashes, the UN estimated that a third of Sudan’s population — or about 16 million people — needed assistance, a figure that is likely to increase.

Dr. Nima Saeed Abid, the World Health Organization’s representative in Sudan, expressed concerns that “one of the fighting parties” — he did not identify which one — had seized control of the central public health laboratory in Khartoum and “kicked out all of the technicians.”

“That is extremely, extremely dangerous because we have polio isolates in the lab. We have measles isolates in the lab. We have cholera isolates in the lab,” he told a UN briefing in Geneva by video call from Port Sudan. “There is a huge biological risk associated with the occupation of the central public health lab in
Khartoum by one of the fighting parties.”

The expulsion of technicians and power cuts in Khartoum mean “it is not possible to properly manage the biological materials that are stored in the lab for medical purposes,” WHO said.

The lab is located in central Khartoum, close to flashpoints of the fighting that pits Sudan’s military against the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group that grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias implicated in atrocities in the Darfur conflict.

Since the outbreak of fighting on April 15, at least 20,000 Sudanese have fled into Chad. Some 4,000 South Sudanese refugees who had been living in Sudan have returned to their home country, UN refugee agency spokeswoman Olga Sarrado said.

The figures could rise, she cautioned. Sarrado did not have numbers for the five other countries neighboring Sudan, but the UNHCR has cited unspecified numbers of those fleeing Sudan arriving in Egypt.

“The fighting looks set to trigger further displacement both within and outside the country,” she said, speaking at a UN briefing in Geneva.

The UNHCR was scaling up its operations, she said, even as foreign governments have raced to evacuate their embassy staff and citizens from Sudan. Many Sudanese have desperately sought ways to escape the chaos, fearing late their all-out battle for power once evacuations are completed.

Several previous cease-fires have failed, although intermittent lulls during the weekend’s major Muslim holiday allowed for dramatic evacuations of hundreds of diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners by air and land.

More than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees live in Sudan, a quarter of them in the capital of Khartoum, where they are directly affected by the fighting. Overall, Sudan hosts 1.1 million refugees, according to the UNHCR. There are also more than 3 million internally displaced persons, mostly in Darfur, a region mired in decades-long conflict, it said.

Along with the refugees, the UN migration agency said there are 300,000 registered migrants, as well as tens of thousands of unregistered migrants in the country.

Marie-Helene Verney, the UNHCR’s chief in South Sudan, said from its capital of Juba that “the planning figure that we have for the most likely scenario is 125,000 returns of South Sudanese refugees into South Sudan, and 45,000 refugees,” Sudanese fleeing the fighting.

The UN Population Fund has said that the fighting threatens tens of thousands of pregnant women, including 24,000 women expected to give birth in the coming weeks. For 219,000 pregnant women across the country it is too dangerous to venture outside their homes to seek urgent care in hospitals and clinics amid the clashes, the agency said.

Dozens of hospitals have shuttered in Khartoum and elsewhere across the country due to the fighting and dwindling medical and fuel supplies, according to the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate.

“If the violence does not stop, there is a danger that the health system will collapse,” the UN agency warned Friday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed the announced cease-fire as a “potential lifesaver for civilians” trapped in their homes in fighting-hit areas.

“It’s clear that this cease-fire must be implemented up and down the chain of command and that it must hold for it to give a real respite to civilians suffering from the fighting,” said Patrick Youssef, ICRC’s regional director for Africa. He called on the international community to help find a “durable political solution to end the bloodshed.”

Spokesman Jens Laerke of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said it has been forced to “reduce our footprint” because of the fighting. He pointed to “acute shortages of food, water, medicines and fuel and limited communications and electricity” and new reports of looting of humanitarian warehouses and aid stockpiles.

“The humanitarian needs in Sudan were already at record levels before this recent eruption of fighting … some 15.8 million people — that’s about a third of the population — required humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Some 3,000 people fled the fighting in Khartoum and took shelter at a refugee camp in the eastern province in Al-Qadarif, further stretching the camp’s resources, Mohammed Mahdi, deputy director for programs at the International Rescue Committee, said Tuesday.

The Tunaydbah refugee camp, he said, houses around 28,000 refugees, mostly Ethiopians who fled a devastating war in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray in late 2020.

Other aid agencies, including the World Food Program, were forced to suspend or scale down its operations in Sudan following attacks on aid workers and humanitarian compounds and warehouses. At least five aid workers, three from the WFP, have been killed since April 15.

The WFP has said its offices and warehouses in Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur, were attacked and looted last week. An ICRC office in Nyala was also looted, and warehouses for the Sudanese Red Crescent in Khartoum were attacked last week by armed men who took several of their vehicles and trucks, the charity said.

Arshad Malik, country director with Save the Children Sudan, urged the warring sides to ensure protection for humanitarian workers to allow resumption of aid flow in Sudan.

“Now we’re seeing more children than ever going hungry. About 12 percent of the country’s 22 million children are going without enough food,” he said.
Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×