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IGAD condemns fatal attack at children's hospital in Sudan

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On Sunday, a bomb that fell near the hospital claimed the lives of two children and left others injured following intense fighting for the control of El Fasher City.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has condemned the recent attack on Babiker Nahar Pediatric Hospital in El Fasher, Sudan calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities to end the conflict that has plagued the country since April last year.

IGAD's Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu on Wednesday called upon the IGAD assembly of Heads of State and Government to continue leveraging their influence to compel the parties to lay down their arms, return to the negotiating table and strive towards sustainable peace in the Republic of Sudan, to meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

"Dr Workneh unequivocally condemns the assaults on critical healthcare infrastructure, such as the recent attack on Babiker Nahar Paediatric Hospital. He notes that such actions not only disrupt the vital supply chain of medical supplies but also hinder the treatment of the injured and vulnerable, including women, children and displaced people," the statement attributed to Workneh Gebeyehu stated.

IGAD further urged all parties involved to exercise restraint in accordance with established international norms underscoring the critical need for unimpeded access to humanitarian aid delivery to alleviate the suffering of affected populations.

On Sunday, a bomb that fell near the hospital claimed the lives of two children and left others injured following intense fighting for the control of El Fasher City, the last major urban centre in the Darfur region that is under the control of the Sudan Armed Forces.

United Nations emergency relief Chief Martin Griffiths said the "strike" damaged the roof of the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, the only functioning facility in North Darfur state where medical supplies are running dangerously slow.

Humanitarian crisis

Sudan has been facing conflict since April 2023 when a war broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF leading to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

According to Plan International, the conflict had killed over 13,900 by April 15 and left 15 million others in need of humanitarian assistance.

Local media reported that the Director of El Fasher Town Hospital confessed to being forced to treat patients in the small left space within the facility including balconies exposing the dire state of the facility whose medical equipment and supplies were damaged and those available not adequate following the cutting off of a key supply line by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)

El Fasher is home to 800,000 people whose lives are now at stake as the conflict escalates.

"Sudan is at a tipping point," the UN noted on Monday.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the clashes extended into the centre of the town, the outskirts of the main market and in neighbourhoods, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.

"The clashes including airstrikes and the use of heavy weapons, started mid-morning in the eastern part of El Fasher town and continued until 6:30 pm," the organisation said.

It added that persistent conflict and escalating violence are pushing the people to the brink of famine even as it hampers the flow of aid and basic commodities.

"In Darfur alone, some nine million people need humanitarian assistance today, but a staggering 24.8 million across Sudan...almost one in two people in the country now require help from the UN and aid partners," OCHA stated.

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