By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KHARTOUM (Worthy News) – At least 50 children – at least two dozen of them babies – have died at an orphanage in the Sudanese capital in the six weeks since Sudan’s latest war broke out in mid-April, medics said Monday.
Dr. Abeer Abdullah said she had rushed between rooms at Sudan’s largest orphanage, trying to care for hundreds of babies and toddlers as the fighting kept all but a handful of staff away.
Children’s cries rang through the sprawling building as heavy gunfire rocked the surroundings, she told Reuters news agency.
Then came waves of deaths. There were the infants housed on the upper floors of the state-run orphanage known as Mygoma.
Without enough staff to care for them, they succumbed to severe malnutrition and dehydration, the doctor said.
And there were the already-fragile newborns in her medical clinic on the ground floor, some of whom died after developing a high fever, she was quoted as saying.
A senior orphanage official confirmed those figures, and a surgeon who had volunteered at the facility during the war said there had been at least several dozen deaths of orphans.
Both said the deaths were mostly of newborns and others under a year old. All three cited malnourishment, dehydration, and infections as the leading causes.
The orphanage was often used by single mothers to leave their children in a Muslim nation where pregnancy outside marriage can lead to severe punishment by society.
Mygoma’s dead babies are also among the invisible victims of the war in Sudan, Africa’s third-largest country by area, where minority Christians also reported suffering and persecution.
Underscoring the health fallout on Sudanese of all ages, there have also been deaths at a care center for the elderly in Khartoum, according to care worker Radwan Ali Nouri.
He told Reuters news agency that five of the elderly residents of the al-Daw Hajoj center had died due to hunger and lack of care. Nouri shared one photograph of what he said was the covered body of a resident who had died that morning.
Authorities say the deaths reported at the elder care center are within the “normal rate” and denied that any residents died of hunger.
However, the number of people dying in the violence is a fraction of those succumbing to illnesses, said Attia Abdullah, secretary general of the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate, a doctors’ union. “The health situation is deteriorating every day,” he said.
The fighting has killed more than 700 people, injured thousands of others, and displaced at least 1.3 million people within Sudan or neighboring countries, according to the United Nations. However, the actual death toll is likely higher, aid workers warn.
The war also impacted Christians, who already face difficulties because of their faith in the Islamic country, Worthy News learned.
The Sudanese Council of Churches has, in recent days, condemned attacks on church leaders and church buildings as the conflict in Sudan rapidly escalates.
Churches have been looted or used as military bases, while several have been burned down, prompting thousands to flee, Christians said.
Christian residents have linked the attacks to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who have been fighting for control over the country against Sudan’s official army.
The RSF has denied responsibility for a recent raid on the Mar Girgis (St. George) Coptic church, saying its troops “were working to protect civilians and that those committing abuses were criminals who had stolen RSF uniforms.”
Witnesses said that during the May 13 attack on what is one of Khartoum’s oldest churches, gunmen opened fire at church officials as they searched for cash, gold, and women.
The RSF has been battling Sudan’s official army across greater Khartoum, the capital area, over the past month.
Just over 5 percent of Sudan’s population of 46 million is Christian, split into 36 denominations, according to data from the Sudan Council of Churches and other sources.
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