Hundreds at risk as Khartoum cut off from food and medical supplies

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Africa delivering medical supplies to a health centre in El Fasher, North Darfur, last month (ICRC Africa)

KHARTOUM – June 13, 2023

Fighting continued in Khartoum yesterday, where nearly 30 civilians died in shelling and bombardment. Medicine shortages and lack of food are threatening hundreds of lives in the city.

The Khartoum Emergency Room set up by activists and members of resistance committees in the Sudanese capital said in a field report that 18 people were killed during renewed shelling in El Azhari and Salama neighbourhoods yesterday and three people were killed in Muzdalifa and El Maygoma in Sharg El Neel in Khartoum North.

The resistance committees of El Kadaro reported that another eight people were killed, most of them from the same family, in area of Abu Halima area in the northern part of Khartoum North after shells fell in the area.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been fighting in residential areas in Khartoum, including in El Azhari, which puts civilians at risk.

Diabetes medication

Volunteers have warned of life-threatening risks for more than 100 diabetes cases in El Mansoura neighbourhood in the densely populated Ombadda district of Omdurman because they have been unable to get insulin for a week.

The El Mansoura Emergency Room said in a statement yesterday important medicines are unavailable, and the ongoing fighting makes it impossible to obtain them. This is especially problematic for patients with diabetes and high blood pressure.

‘Patients in a miserable state are waiting for death’

The closure of roads and bridges and the fact that pharmacies are regularly robbed and looted have exacerbated the situation. There is “a complete lack of insulin and life-saving medicines” and “patients in a miserable state are waiting for death”, the Emergency Room stated on social media.

“Diabetics and other patients with chronic diseases in Khartoum North are facing their fate.”

On social media, the news is spreading that the Good Shepherd Pharmacy on El Wali Street in Omdurman has been destroyed in a fire after bombardment. It is one of the biggest pharmacies in the city and an important hub for the distribution of medical supplies. Someone called it “the most reliable pharmacy of Omdurman”.

A well-stocked pharmacy in Khartoum in 2018, before the war (social media / Khartoum Pharmacy)

The situation in Khartoum is also affecting patients elsewhere in Khartoum. Last week, the Paediatric Diabetes Association in Ed Damazin, Blue Nile region, was forced to significantly reduce services to more than 70 diabetic children because of the interrupted supply of insulin from the parent association in Khartoum.

Power outages also prove to be a challenge. Last month said that “people in Sudan with diabetes are having to use bags of ice and wet towels to try and keep their insulin at a low temperature in the oppressive heat whilst also attempting to escape recent violence.”

Medical director for MedGlobal, an organisation that provides healthcare in areas affected by conflict, Dr Nahreen Ahmed explained that, without insulin, diabetes patients “will become critically ill and it happens very fast. Within a day, somebody who is without insulin can become so sick that they’re potentially in a diabetic coma or become severely anaemic.”

Medicine shortages also impact Sudanese with other chronic health conditions, such as kidney failure. At the end of April, the director of the National Centre for Kidney Diseases already warned that “the situation is scary, and we may lose 12,000 human beings soon” as dialysis equipment has been in short supply.

Food shortages

The Emergency Room described the humanitarian situation in the neighbourhood as “tragic” and called on aid organisations to intervene urgently. 

Most families have also run out of food and most of the neighbourhood shops and grocers are out of stock.

Activists reported that the closure of the central market of Shambat in Khartoum North, frequent attacks on lorries, and the fact that shop owners and merchants are terrorised and robbed have caused the city to be cut off from food supplies.

“We are suffering from a lack of everything here for the sixth day.”