Sudan’s Official Death Toll Described As ‘Tip Of Iceberg’


A tally of death figures recorded by local activists and volunteer groups indicates that the civilian death toll in Khartoum State may be more than double the official count, underscoring the devastating impact of the more than 100-day long war on the Sudanese people.

In early May, a loud explosion rocked Shambat, a neighborhood to the north of Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. Locals rushed to douse the flames devouring a makeshift dwelling that they say was ignited in an airstrike.

They were too late. Amid the smoldering debris, according to five witnesses, were the charred bodies of a pregnant woman, a man and five children. Following the May 7 attack, the woman and children were buried at the site and the man at a nearby cemetery, two of the witnesses said.

The seven victims of the Shambat strike share something in common with many of the fatalities in the war that has ravaged Sudan since mid-April: They are not included in the official death count in Khartoum State, which has seen most of the fighting between the Sudanese Army and the country’s main paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces.

With the conflict having shattered local health and government services, the entities that would usually register fatalities are largely disabled.

A Health Ministry report circulated to aid agencies and put the death toll in Khartoum State at 234 people as of July 5. The report specifies that the data is collected only from civilian hospitals. But across Khartoum State, which includes the capital and its sister cities Omdurman and Bahri, activist and volunteer groups have recorded at least 580 civilian deaths through July 26 as a result of airstrikes, artillery and gunfire.

The disparity in the figures for Khartoum State suggests that the official nationwide death toll, which the Health Ministry puts at 1,136 people as of July 5, may also be an undercount.

A ministry official said the official figure was “the tip of the iceberg.”

That’s because many civilians have died in their neighborhoods or at home — not in hospital — so their deaths wouldn’t have been recorded, he said.

Sudanese paramilitary leader Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, called for the replacement of army leadership in his first on-camera appearance since fighting broke out.

The video of Hemedti was posted to the paramilitary group’s Facebook page showing him surrounded by cheering members of the RSF, as he apologized to the Sudanese people for the impact of the ongoing conflict.

“We tell our brothers in the armed forces, if you want a quick solution … change your leadership and we’ll come to an agreement in 72 hours.”

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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