An orphanage is caught between warring factions in the capital of Sudan, and more than sixty children have died inside as help has been unable to reach them.
The Al-Mayqoma orphanage in Khartoum, Sudan, is surrounded by homes, markets, and little shops. But since mid-April, it has been at the epicenter of a warzone. The Sudanese military, led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, are fighting the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. It’s a vicious civil war, fought in backyards and civilian spaces. Hundreds of civilians, including at least 190 children, have been killed in Khartoum since the beginning of the conflict. Over 1.65 million people have fled their homes in the capitol city for safer places, but many aren’t able to leave, essentially under siege by one army or the other.
The orphanage is one of these besieged places. Those who work at the facility have been using social media to beg for help, but food and medicine has struggled to reach them. Doctors and volunteers already present have, in desperation, posted videos showing the wrapped bodies of children stored in a room to wait burial, and dozens of babies and toddlers sheltering in a room, crying for food while they have only water to give them. There was approximately one adult per twenty children.
There have been three to six child deaths in the facility since the beginning of the fighting, to a peak of 26 deaths this past weekend. At least 60 infants, toddlers, and young children have died due to malnutrition, dehydration, fever, or failure to thrive.
“It is a catastrophic situation,” Afkar Omar Moustafa, a volunteer at the orphanage, said in a phone interview. “This was something we expected from day one (of the fighting).”
Help was finally able to reach the orphanage this Sunday, with the help of a local charity and UNICEF, and evacuation is being organized to take place as soon as possible.