In Khartoum, corpses litter the streets: ‘The fighting keeps residents from burying them’

The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, has been embroiled in violent clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support forces (RSF) since April 15, leading to scores of casualties. Images received by the FRANCE 24 Observers team show lifeless bodies littering the streets of the city. Our Observer, a doctor in Khartoum, laments that aerial bombardments and continued fighting are making it impossible for residents to leave their homes to take the wounded to hospital or bury the dead.

Images sent to the FRANCE 24 Observers team on April 19, 2023 show several dead bodies littering the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
Images sent to the FRANCE 24 Observers team on April 19, 2023 show several dead bodies littering the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. © Observers

Fierce fighting has brought Khartoum and other towns, including Nyala, to a standstill. The aerial bombardments carried out by the Sudanese army have disabled hospitals and medical facilities, with many of them now out of order.

Thousands of civilians have fled Khartoum. However, many residents are still holed up in their homes due to fear of being shot at and have little or no access to food, medicine, or fuel.

The conflict is being fuelled by the ongoing power struggle between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sudanese armed forces, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the paramilitary RSF movement, who jointly ruled the country following their coup against the democratic transition in 2021. The two factions are now vying for power. 

‘In the capital, 39 out of 59 hospitals are out of order’

The Ibn Sina Hospital in Khartoum was hit by air strikes in the morning of April 18. Alaa el-Din Awad Nogoud, a surgeon working at the hospital and spokesman for the Sudanese Professional Association, told the FRANCE 24 Observers team:

A fire broke out in the hospital after the facility came under aerial bombardment yesterday (April 17). Fortunately, there were no casualties or injuries, but the hospital is completely out of order. In Khartoum and its surroundings, at least 39 hospitals out of 59 are declared out of service. Al-Nour Hospital, Ibrahim Malik Hospital, Martyrs Hospital and Omdurman University Hospital are among the most important hospitals currently operating in Khartoum and continue to receive patients and injuries, despite a severe shortage of electricity and fuel.

The Sudanese Professionals Association is a union representing 17 professions, including health professionals.

‘Decomposing corpses in the open is a health disaster’

Eyewitness footage, authenticated by the Observers' team, shows several dead bodies in the streets of Khartoum, where people no longer dare to move around for fear of being caught in the crossfire.

Since the clashes broke out on Saturday [April 15], the situation has deteriorated dramatically. The roads are virtually cut off; transporting the injured to hospitals has become very dangerous. And at a time when the wounded are still pouring into the hospitals that remain functional, the constant shooting and aerial bombardment have prevented some of the wounded from reaching the hospitals for treatment. 

Residents have been unable to bury their loved ones because of the inability to move around the city. This applies to both civilians and military personnel who have lost their lives in the conflict. This is very dangerous. Decomposing corpses in the open is a health disaster.

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Those who still venture onto the streets find themselves in long queues for bread or fuel in front of the few stores that have remained open. Some go to train stations in an attempt to flee the city. 

The medical staff working in the hospitals, who continue to treat the wounded, are extremely exhausted. The safety of medical personnel is threatened even when they are on duty. Due to the lack of compliance with the ceasefire resolution, we are still suffering from a severe shortage of medicines, intravenous solutions and oxygen tanks.

 Most dialysis facilities have stopped functioning. In some hospitals, water and oxygen tanks have been damaged by the shelling, as happened at Al-Shaab Hospital, where the most important surgeries are performed, such as those related to heart, lung and respiratory diseases. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern that a number of hospitals in Khartoum "are suffering from a shortage of blood units, blood transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids and other vital supplies”.

The fighting has killed at least 270 people and injured more than 2,600, according to Sudan’s Ministry of Health Emergency Operations Center.