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Sudan: Makeshift clinics call for volunteers, resources as fighting rages on

Emergency clinic in east Darfur   -  
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At a makeshift clinic in a small school in the al-Rashidin district of Omdurman, a northern suburb of the Sudanese capital, doctor Mohammed al-Taher and two local men turned field nurses tend to the wounded and sick. With them are a few boxes of medicines collected by neighbours. A handful of volunteers across the capital are trying to offer the services of the closed hospitals with whatever resources they can find.

"The idea behind these emergency rooms (clinics) is to spread them geographically across all the neighbourhoods, meaning that each area will establish its own emergency clinic. The yo--uths of each neighbourhood have the biggest role (in the operation of these clinics), along with the medical staff that's already present." Mohammed al-Taher, a Sudanese doctor, and volunteer explained.

In East Darfur, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), "some thirty newborn babies have died in a hospital since the fighting began, including six in the same week for lack of oxygen during power cuts".

"We are located on a frontline, most of the injuries are related to the war, like the treatment of wounds. The challenge we face is that most (governmental) clinics are closed and the private sector clinics aren't affordable for the majority. So people come here because they receive treatment for free." says Ashraf Nasreldine, a Sudanese volunteer.

On Monday, fighting raged again across the country where calls to arms are multiplying, on the last day of a week-long truce that has never been respected and that international mediators want to extend.

Residents of Khartoum told AFP that fighting was taking place in the northern suburbs and that artillery fire was being heard in the south of the capital, a city of over five million inhabitants.

Since the beginning of the truce on May 22, some people have managed to get out quickly to buy food and drink, for twice as much as before the war.

But thousands of families are still holed up in their homes, many without running water or electricity, for fear of stray bullets.

The situation is worse in Darfur, a vast region of western Sudan bordering Chad, already ravaged by war in the 2000s, according to Toby Harward, an official of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

- Newborn babies dead in hospital -

"Sporadic fighting between soldiers and paramilitaries over the past few days in El-Facher, North Darfur, right up to the Abou Chouk IDP camp, has resulted in civilian casualties," he says.

Houses have been looted and tens of thousands of people have been displaced again by the fighting, which is "a flagrant violation of the ceasefire and prevents the distribution of humanitarian aid", he added.

According to the UN, 25 million of Sudan's 45 million people are now dependent on humanitarian aid in one of the world's poorest countries.

Last Monday, the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, Sudan's de facto ruler, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, his deputy and now rival, pledged to cease air raids, artillery fire and street fighting to allow civilians to leave and humanitarian aid to be delivered.

But on the seventh day of the truce, which expires at 19:45 GMT, the few shipments of food and medicines that have reached a few hospitals in Khartoum or in areas spared by the fighting are only a drop in the ocean compared with the needs.

"(We urge) Anyone who has extra medicine at home to bring it to us or to any emergency room (clinic) in their neighbourhood, as most neighbourhoods have operational emergency rooms (clinics). We are in need of all kinds of medicine, doctors and any volunteers who can help our clinic in the al-Rashidin neighbourhood."  Maha Mohammed, a Sudanese volunteer said.

Since the start of the war on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the NGO ACLED, which specializes in collecting information in conflict zones, including 18 humanitarians. More than a million others have been forced to move elsewhere in Sudan, and almost 350,000 outside the country, according to the UN.

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