Sudan Violence Puts Thousands Of Pregnant Women At Risk: UNApr 22, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
The ongoing heavy fighting in Sudan is putting tens of thousands of pregnant women in danger, making it too perilous to venture outside their homes to seek urgent medical care, warned the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
UNFPA estimates that there are 219,000 pregnant women in the capital city of Khartoum, the epicentre of the violence, with 24,000 of them expected to give birth in the coming weeks, reports Xinhua news agency.
Violent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces since Saturday have made it extremely difficult for women to seek essential antenatal care, safe delivery services, or postnatal care, said the fund in a statement.
The conflict has not spared Sudan’s healthcare system. At least 20 hospitals have been forced to shut down in Khartoum because of the violence. A further 12 hospitals across the country are still operating but could soon close as they struggle with power and water cuts and a lack of staff, it said.
Doctors, nurses and hospital staff are unable to travel to work and vital humanitarian aid is not getting through because of roadblocks and ongoing fighting, leaving medical facilities understaffed, overwhelmed, and running low on critical medical supplies, it said.
If the violence does not stop, there is a danger that the health system will collapse and pregnant women and their unborn children will die, warned UNFPA.
The agency said it is also concerned about the 3.1 million women and girls who are facing increased risks of life-threatening gender-based violence as protection services are interrupted by the clashes.
UNFPA reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law: to protect all civilians, including the wounded and sick, health care workers and humanitarians, and ensure unrestricted access to health facilities and hospitals for those in need. Attacks on health care are a flagrant violation of international law and the right to health.
The UN agency deplores the deadly attacks on UN staff and expresses extreme concern about the safety of its own staff in Khartoum and other affected areas, who are trapped inside their homes and are beginning to run out of water, food and critical medicines.
The current insecurity is making the delivery of humanitarian aid almost impossible and comes at the worst time for the people of Sudan as the country faces unprecedented needs, it said.
Under extremely challenging circumstances, the agency continues to support partners on the ground to provide life-saving health care, distribute supplies for safe births and to manage obstetric emergencies through a network of midwives, while also trying to ensure the safety of its own staff, partners and their families, it said.
UNFPA joins UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in calling for the humanitarian pause to be respected so that people can access food, water, medicine and the health care they desperately need, it said.