WHO warns of “huge biological risk” as warring group occupies Sudan’s central public health lab

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning about the occupation of Sudan's central public health lab by one of the warring groups in the country. According to Nima Saeed Abid, the WHO's representative in Sudan, the occupation of the laboratory poses a “huge biological risk,” as the lab contains samples of diseases including polio and measles.[0] The facility has been seized by fighters, who have kicked out all technicians, creating an “extremely, extremely dangerous” situation.[1] The WHO has warned of an “extremely high” chance of the spread of deadly pathogens. The conflict in Sudan, which has pitted forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against those of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has left many stranded in their homes with dwindling supplies of food and water, while hospitals and other essential services have been paralyzed.[2] The United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) has been forced to cut back on some of its activities in parts of Sudan due to the intense fighting, and at least five aid workers have been killed.[3] The WHO's warning serves as a reminder of the potential consequences of conflicts in fragile states, both for those directly involved and for the wider international community.

0. “Sudan crisis: WHO warns of biological hazard at seized lab” BBC, 25 Apr. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-65390285

1. “WHO: biological hazard brewing in Sudan as fighters overtake a central public health lab” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 25 Apr. 2023, https://thebulletin.org/2023/04/who-biological-hazard-brewing-in-sudan-as-fighters-overtake-a-central-public-health-lab/

2. “Sudan conflict: why is there fighting and what is at stake in the region?” The Guardian, 25 Apr. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/25/sudan-conflict-why-is-there-fighting-what-is-happening

3. “WHO warns of ‘huge biological risk' as Sudan fighters storm national laboratory” Daily Mail, 25 Apr. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12011135/WHO-warns-huge-biological-risk-Sudan-fighters-storm-national-laboratory.html

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