Authorities in Sudan report a “high risk of biological hazards” following the seizure of a health facility where polio, measles and cholera isolates are stored but the samples are now completely out of their control.
“It is occupied by one of the fighting parties,” said Dr. Nima Saeed Abid, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Sudan, during a press conference from Geneva. “That is extremely, extremely dangerous.”
He said all technicians had been forced out of the National Public Health Laboratory in Khartoum but declined to identify which of the warring parties had taken over the lab. Certain chemicals used at the lab also could pose a risk through improper use, while access to blood and other medical supplies stored there was now cut off.
At least 14 medical facilities have been attacked during the fighting.
The warring parties in Sudan were expected to reassess their positions during a ceasefire negotiated Monday, but the new statistics from WHO say there are now 459 dead and more than 4,000 injured in roughly 10 days of fighting between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) aligned with the interim government and the Rapid Support Forces (RAF).
The SAF is led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, whose controversial military rule followed the 2021 removal of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Hamdok had been part of a transitional government since the arrest of former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, leads the RAF and served alongside Burhan in the transitional government.
Representatives from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said an estimated 170,000 people were projected to flee into South Sudan, primarily from Khartoum. Most of them are refugees returning to South Sudan.
Officials have no displacement data yet from other neighboring countries including Egypt, Eritrea, Chad and Central African Republic.
Image: NPHL Sudan