GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization on Thursday urged both sides of the conflict in Sudan to halt fighting to allow those injured to get medical attention and to open a humanitarian passage for health workers, patients and ambulances.
Residents of the capital Khartoum reported heavy gunfire on Thursday as many tried to flee a city that has been virtually paralyzed by fierce battles between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
“We call on all parties to implement a sustained humanitarian pause as soon as possible so that those trapped by the fighting can seek refuge,” Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, told a virtual news conference.
He said such a humanitarian pause was essential for civilians to access food, water and medicines, and for injured people to seek medical care.
Both sides had previously said they would respect a 24-hour ceasefire that was due to come into effect at 1600 GMT on Wednesday but was quickly broken by clashes.
Mandhari said that humanitarian passage should be created to allow for health workers, patients and ambulances to move safely.
Richard Brennan, WHO Regional Emergency Director, said medically evacuating those severely injured in Sudan was “not a realistic option right now” due to the grave security situation.
“It’s just not possible to have that kind of movement,” he said. “We also have very limited resources. It’s very expensive to do medical evacuations. We are much better off using our limited resources to shore up the hospitals and support the medical staff in the country.”
Brennan added that the WHO planned to bring more medical equipment, including emergency surgery kits, into Sudan as soon as the situation allows.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Jana Choukeir and Ahmed Elimam in Dubai; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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