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'Time running out' in war-torn Sudan as access to aid restricted, WHO warns

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The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that the crisis in Sudan could worsen in the coming months as the distribution of humanitarian aid and medical supplies remains restricted.

Sudanese refugees gather as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams assist the war-wounded from West Darfur, Sudan, in Adre hospital, Chad, June 16, 2023 in this handout image. Courtesy of Mohammad Ghannam/MSF/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that the crisis in Sudan could worsen in the coming months as the distribution of humanitarian aid and medical supplies remains restricted.

War erupted in Sudan on April 15, 2023, between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), devastating the country's infrastructure, prompting warnings of famine and displacing millions of people inside and outside the country.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, although death toll estimates are highly uncertain, and both sides have been accused of committing war crimes.

"Time is running out. Without a stop to the fighting and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian aid, Sudan's crisis will dramatically worsen in the months to come and could impact the whole region," WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said.

"We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and the situation could be much more dire."

Lindmeier said 15 million people were in need of urgent health assistance and that diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue were spreading.

He said medical supplies in the country were estimated at about 25% of the needs, and 70 to 80% of Sudanese health facilities were not functioning due to the conflict.

"Some states, such as Darfur, have not received medical supplies for the past year," Lindmeier said.

Outbreaks of disease are increasing as public health services, including vaccinations, are disrupted, he said.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

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