Sudan: Essential Services At Breaking Point After Two Months of Fighting

Geneva (ICRC) – Two months into the conflict, hostilities in densely populated urban areas have taken a disastrous toll on civilian infrastructure, especially in locations in and around the capital Khartoum and in Darfur. Power and water stations have been seriously damaged, and technical personnel have been unable to access them safely and make the necessary repairs.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Khartoum have spent many weeks without clean water and electricity, having to walk long distances, often putting their lives at risk, to reach these essential services. The skyrocketing prices and shortages of fuel used for generators have made the situation worse.

“Sudanese civilians, those who left their homes and hose who stayed, are enduring enormous hardship without access to the essentials, like water, electricity and healthcare,” says Jean-Christophe Sandoz, the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sudan. “Civilian infrastructure providing essential services, and personnel who operate, maintain and repair it are protected by international humanitarian law.”

The onset of the rainy season has raised the fear of outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Garbage has not been collected in many urban neighborhoods for weeks, and dead bodies still lie in the open in some hard-to-reach areas. At the same time, many residents have had no choice but to use unsafe drinking water from the Nile or other sources.

Despite the enormous efforts of Sudanese doctors and nurses, many medical facilities had to close their doors. In Khartoum, we estimate that only 20% of facilities still function. The state of healthcare provision is also critical in many areas of Darfur. The healthcare system finds itself under an enormous strain not only to treat the large number of wounded but also to provide routine services to the population.