Following several days of fighting between Sudan’s national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and a failed ceasefire, dozens of deaths and a growing number of injuries have been reported in the country in a conflict which is also affecting the academic community.
Whereas the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) on 15 April put the death toll at 56 people, some of the latest reports suggest a fourfold increase in fatalities and hundreds more injuries, but these remain unconfirmed from within Sudan.
The names of some of the student and university staff victims have surfaced on social media platforms, including Dr Muhammad Ahmad Al-Khatim, a lecturer at Al Fashir University, Abdullah Khaled Abdullah Adam (Gedo), a student at the Sudan Academy for Aviation Sciences and Technology, Dr Alaa Fawzi Al-Mardi, a graduate of the University of Science and Technology, and Dr Najwa Khaled Hamad.
The University of Khartoum Teaching Staff Trade Union (UKTSTU) has also confirmed the death of a student on 17 April, saying Khalid Abdulmun’em had been shot near the campus. He was buried on campus after safe passage off site could not be secured.
The university area in Khartoum is a particular hot spot due to its proximity to the general command of the armed forces, with warplanes hovering overhead and nearby buildings destroyed by fire.
For more than three days, students at the university have been trapped inside campus buildings as artillery and gunfire rain down around them in Sudan’s capital.
Also, media reports suggested a fire broke out in the building of the ministry of higher education and scientific research in Khartoum.
Adil Mohamed Ali, the head of the Institutional Development Programme at the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society and a coordinator with the United Nations Development Programme, or UNDP, told University World News it was not clear which of the warring parties had the upper hand.
“Sporadic fighting and gunfire is heard all over Khartoum. It is not clear how long this fight will continue. Let us hope the situation will improve soon,” said Ali.
Out of 59 hospitals in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and the states adjacent to the areas of armed conflict, there are 39 hospitals that have suspended their service, including most of the teaching hospitals, according to a 19 April field report issued by a committee of the Sudan Doctors Trade Union.