NEW YORK–Dead bodies lined the streets of the Sudan capital of Khartoum, as intense fighting between the Sudanese military and Rapid Support Forces continued for a sixth day. The fighting has caused thousands in Khartoum and across the country to shelter in place with limited food, electricity and water, as an all-out war rages in the streets.
So far, at least 330 people have been killed and 3,200 have been injured from the fighting, according to the World Health Organization, but these numbers are likely an “underestimation of the true impact of the crisis,” WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Ahmed Al-Mandhari said Thursday at a press conference.
One-third of the health facilities in Sudan are out of service, WHO representative in Sudan, Nima Saeed Abid said Thursday.
“20 hospitals have been forced to close due to attacks or lack of resources, and another eight health facilities are at risk of closure due to staff exhaustion or lack of medical staff and supplies,” Al-Mandhari said.
Since the fighting began, nine hospitals have been hit by artillery and 19 have been forced to evacuate, the Sudanese Doctors Union said Thursday. Multiple aid organizations said they have received reports from workers on the ground being assaulted and deliberately targeted.
Two unsuccessful ceasefires called earlier this week left those who were injured and in need, stranded in place without resources. The ceasefires were called to allow injured people to get to hospitals and allow aid organizations to provide needed support, but calm never came to the capital or in other parts of the country.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a three-day ceasefire over the Eid al-Fitr celebrations “to allow citizens trapped in conflict zones to escape and seek medical treatment,” on Thursday.
The cessation of hostilities must be followed by a “serious dialogue allowing for the successful transition, starting with the appointment of a civilian government,” Guterres said.
“The fighting must stop immediately,” he added.
The head of the Transitional Sovereignty Council in Sudan, Army Commander Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan said there is “no room” for talking with the Rapid Support Forces in a televised interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday after Guterres called for a three-day ceasefire.
In the capital, residents saw bodies from both sides of the conflict lining the streets.
“Dead bodies were lying all around the ground in a main street in Al-Taif and on the western road outside of Khartoum,” Hadeel Mohamed, a resident of Khartoum’s Al-Taif district, told ABC News.
Al-Taif is about five miles from the main battlefront around the military headquarters in Khartoum. Mohamed fled to her family’s house in the outskirts of the capital on Wednesday.
“Everyone was staying home. No one could move,” Mohamed said of the situation in Khartoum. “No one wanted to dare move. We had supplies of food, but people who started running out of supplies would walk out to try to find stores to get food.”
Mohamed and Mosdalefa, a resident of the Jabra neighborhood in west Khartoum, said most stores and banks are closed in the capital city, making it hard for residents who do venture out for more supplies to find anything.
“I went to the supermarket today and didn’t find most of the things I needed,” Mosdalefa told ABC News. “The shop owner said suppliers have since Saturday stopped providing dairy, chicken and other products because of the poor security situation.”
At least nine children have been killed in Khartoum and more than 50 children have been injured, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement Thursday.
The fighting has “already disrupted life-saving care for an estimated 50,000 severely acutely malnourished children,” Russell said.
The UN World Food Programme estimated the conflict has the “potential to plunge millions more into hunger,” in a statement released Thursday. The UN WFP was “forced” to temporarily halt operations in Sudan because of the fighting.
For people who are brave enough to leave amid the fighting, the options are to leave on foot or in cars. The airspace over Sudan is closed.
An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 refugees have arrived in Chad in the past two days fleeing the conflict in Sudan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a release Thursday.
“The majority of those arriving are women and children who are currently sheltering out in the open,” UNHCR said in the release.
In the meantime, the fighting continues without any sign of letting up.
Mohamed described the fighting in the capital as “militias fighting each other,” because “the military is acting like a militia,” she said.
“There was no ceasefire,” Mohamed said. “They both never stopped firing.”