Sudan turmoil live: 39 hospitals bombed out of service
Hello MEE readers. As the fifth day of fighting concludes in Sudan despite a ceasefire, dozens of hospitals have been damaged or shut down leaving many across the country without access to medical care.
The battle between Sudan's army and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group has so far led to the deaths of at least 270 people, and more than 2,600 wounded have been wounded.
In the capital of Khartoum, many are attempting to flee the city in order to reach safer parts of the country. The closure of the airport in Khartoum has led to an "uncertain security situation", according to the US which added that it did not have any current plans for an evacuation.
The US is one of many foreign governments debating whether to attempt evacuation operations to rescue their citizens from the fighting.
Western diplomats continue to push for a stop to the clashes, while the United Nations has issued a dire warning that people are running out of food, fuel, and other vital supplies.
The Russian private military Wagner Group has denied that it was operating in Sudan and said it had nothing to do with battles rocking the country.
Western diplomats in Khartoum said in March 2022 that the private military company was involved in illicit gold mining in Sudan, but Khartoum denied this was the case.
"Due to the large number of inquiries from various foreign media about Sudan, most of which are provocative, we consider it necessary to inform everyone that Wagner staff have not been in Sudan for more than two years," the group wrote on Telegram.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has said during a press briefing that civilians in Sudan “are running out of food, running out of fuel and running out of vital supplies,” and many are in need of "urgent medical care".
He added that according to the World Health Organisation, 16 hospitals have been shut down across the country. He warned that "Sudan’s health care system could completely collapse".
"We desperately need a humanitarian pause so that wounded and sick civilians can reach hospitals," he said.
"People in Khartoum have been unable to safely leave their homes to buy food and other essential items for days."
A new attempt at a ceasefire in Sudan between rival military forces has failed, as fighting continued after the truce was supposed to come into effect on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said it had agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire, starting at 6pm local time. But eyewitnesses told Reuters that several areas in the capital Khartoum witnessed continued hostilities.
Another truce attempt on Tuesday had failed to take hold.
At least 900 potentially hijacked Twitter accounts are being used to retweet content posted by the head of the Rapid Support Force (RSF) in Sudan, according to new research.
The Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) at the Atlantic Council said the accounts were boosting statements by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo the head of the RSF and deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling council, as part of an online propaganda war with their rivals the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).
The findings released on Tuesday show that in addition to the battle being fought with tanks and artillery in Sudan, there is also a battle to shape online narratives.
Much of the reported amplification occurred after the outbreak of violence on 15 April, with content echoing RSF narratives being promoted.
“The accounts followed a similar pattern: after remaining inactive for years, many became active again in December 2022, tweeting a string of characters lifted from Wikipedia pages, then boosting tweets from Hemeti and the RSF,” said the report, referring to Dagalo by his commonly used nickname Hemeti.
Read more below.
Dozens of Sudan's hospitals have shut down on the fifth day of bloody clashes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Nuha Mahjoub, a nurse at Khartoum Hospital, told Middle East Eye that hospitals were under fire, and ambulances couldn't reach the injured or those who needed medical care.
Medical staff were stuck inside Khartoum Hospital for three days, until 30 patients, doctors, and nurses were evacuated to other hospitals.
"We try to be outside the house, in the garden, and not stay inside the rooms for fear of being bombed," said Mahjoub, speaking from her home.
She said the capital resembled a war zone.
She told MEE that some dead bodies in Sudanese hospitals had bloated due to the lack of morgues and electricity. Per Islamic tradition, bodies should be buried as quickly as possible.
Mahjoub said that Al-Shaab Teaching Hospital, where she had previously worked, was targeted directly with bombs.
'We can't send ambulances to treat these patients as the situation on the streets is very dangerous'
- Nuha Mahjoub, nurse, Khartoum
"The ward of chest pain and heart disease patients was targeted. The hospital was evacuated, and some patients were injured.
"We don't know why hospitals are being targeted. Some of it is close to the headquarters of the armed forces like Khartoum Hospital, which was caught up in the middle of fighting."
Since Saturday, the army and RSF have fought tooth and nail over strategic bridges, airports, military bases and government offices.
Mahjoub said that the victims of the fighting were patients who needed oxygen, or those sitting at home in need of urgent care for heart problems or kidney dialysis.
"We can't send ambulances to treat these patients as the situation on the streets is very dangerous. People are dying in their homes for lack of medical care. We used ambulances as vehicles-only - without medical staff - to transport and evacuate patients to another hospital."
She said that some hospitals that took evacuated patients, such as in the city of Omdurman, later shut down too. Patients had to be evacuated once again.
According to the Central Committee of Sudan's Doctors, 39 out of 59 hospitals in Khartoum were out of service as of Tuesday evening. 16 of them were forced to evacuate, while nine hospitals were bombed.
Diplomatic missions in Sudan have released a joint statement calling on rival forces in Sudan to avoid further escalation and resolve outstanding issues.
The embassies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, the US, and the EU were among the signatories.
The missions called for a ceasefire and urged Sudan's army and paramilitary groups to respect obligations under international law to protect civilians, humanitarian actors, and diplomats.
With fighting ongoing in the capital, many of Khartoum's residents have attempted to flee to safer areas of the country.
Ibrahim Douma fled to Omdurman on Monday, but even that city has been facing its fair share of violence.
Douma, who works with an NGO monitoring and documenting human rights violations, told MEE he could hear the sounds of bombs, shells, and gunfire erupting close to the Mohandiseen neighbourhood southwest of Omdurman.
The area is of high strategic importance as it houses high-ranking Sudanese officers and their families. In addition, it hosts the bases of the medical, engineering, signal, and rocket launcher corps, and the Higher Military Academy.
Up to the north of the western bank of the White Nile lies the military hospital and government offices.
Douma said that he passed five checkpoints manned by army officers on his way to Omdurman. He was asked where he came from and where he was going.
"I saw tanks and miltary vehciles of the Rapid Support Forces burned on the side way... the army did not allow us in to Omdurman from the main road and we had to take a detour," he said.
'It took me few hours to absorb the shock. I could not believe it. I was not prepared for this war, and we were anxious that the internet and communications would be cut as well'
- Ibrahim Douma, Khartoum resident
The one-way White Nile, which connects north of Khartoum to the south of Omdurman, was partly closed as the military bases are the first areas that appear on the western bank of the White Nile.
Douma said that he was shocked when hearing the news on Saturday. He woke up to relentless phone calls from his family. In Khartoum he lived a few kilometres away from the armed forces headquarters and the palace.
"I drove a friend to Khartoum airport on Saturday morning and came back home around 6:30am. I drove on the armed forces bridge, and Bahri bridge which is close to the army and RSF areas, and eveything was calm," Douma said.
However, at 9:30am he woke up to face a warring city. Shops were shut down, and soon electricity and tap water supplies were cut.
"It took me few hours to absorb the shock. I could not believe it. I was not prepared for this war, and we were anxious that the internet and communications would be cut as well," he said.
"We were fasting and we hoped this would end in a few hours. We had high hopes that the army and the RSF would pave the way to transition to a civilian governemnt - but these hopes are shattered now."
Several foreign governments are debating whether to attempt evacuation operations to rescue their citizens, as fighting rages on across Sudan.
A German military mission to evacuate 150 citizens had to be halted in Khartoum on Wednesday, according to Speigel news magazine.
The Luftwaffe air force had dispatched three planes for the mission early on Wednesday, Speigel reported, but aborted the mission due to ongoing airstrikes and clashes in the Sudanese capital.
Meanwhile, Japan said authorities were planning to use planes from its military Self-Defence Forces to evacuate around 60 Japanese citizens.
The US State Department said the closure of Khartoum airport and "uncertain security situation" meant there were no current plans for a government-coordinated evacuation.
On Monday, a US diplomatic convoy was fired upon in an apparent Rapid Support Forces attack, shortly after the EU's ambassador to Sudan was attacked in his home in the capital.
Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) says it has agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire, starting at 6pm local time on Wednesday.
"We confirm our full commitment to a complete ceasefire, and we hope the other party will abide by the ceasefire according to the announced time," the RSF said in a statement.
Sudan's army is yet to confirm whether it will abide by the proposed truce.
Yesterday, both parties announced that they had agreed to a day-long armistice in order to evacuate civilians, but that was shattered by the sound of warplanes, gunshots and tank fire. Each side accused the other of breaking the truce.
The Rapid Support Forces paramilitary said it has moved the group of Egyptian soliders detained when it stormed Merowe airport to Khartoum.
On Twitter, the RSF said: "We assure the families and government of Egypt that the soldiers who were present at the Merowe military base are all safe and receiving the necessary care, and they will be handed over when the appropriate opportunity arises, according to the conditions the country is going through."
On Monday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the troops were in Sudan to conduct exercises with their Sudanese counterparts and were not supporting any warring parties. Sisi has said he is in contact with the RSF to assure their safety.
The RSF released a video on Saturday claiming the Egyptians had "surrendered" to its forces.
Reuters have published a selection of images from the Maxar Technologies satellite image service showing several bits of military hardware destroyed by bombing. Here's a selection:
Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), the healthcare NGO known in English as Doctors Without Borders, said one of its facilities in Darfur has been looted.
Vehicles and medical equipment were taken from its compound in Nyala, capital of South Darfur governorate. It did not say which faction the armed men belonged to.
“We request again respect for the protection of humanitarian organisations and their premises. Our priority now is to ensure the safety of our staff,” it tweeted.
The Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) at the Atlantic Council has found at least nine hundred potentially hijacked Twitter accounts retweeting content posted by Sudan’s Rapid Support Force (RSF) and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the RSF and deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling council.
Following several days of clashes between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary RSF, the war is now also heading to the digital space.
Many of the accounts that have been apparently hijacked displayed evidence of having previously been operated by real users, the DFRLab found, and now promote RSF narratives online.
The DFRLab could not conduct similar research on the SAF or SAF leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as neither the SAF or al-Burhan had active Twitter accounts at the time of data collection.