WHO voices ‘huge biological risk’ over Sudan lab seizure



Amid deadly fighting that has been ongoing since April 15, World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of a “huge biological risk” after fighters in Sudan captured the National Public Health Laboratory in the capital Khartoum.

The lab contains samples of diseases and other biological material, that were seized by RSF forces.

The global health agency did not name the group that seized the lab but said medical technicians no longer had access to the facility, reported CNN.

In a statement by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to CNN, it denied taking control of the lab and that it had “no control over the laboratory.”

Nima Saeed Abid, the WHO representative in Sudan, said the development is “extremely dangerous because we have polio isolates in the lab, we have measles isolates in the lab, we have cholera isolates in the lab.”

He added: “There is a huge biological risk asso-ciated with the occupation of the central public health lab in Khartoum by one of the fighting parties.”

The military clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary RSF have forced millions to confine to their home in extreme heat, without basic food supplies and electricity.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan-led army and Dagalo’s RSF have been fighting for supremacy which left 512 dead and thousands wounded. Both sides accuse each other of attacking first which sparked the fierce fighting.

Both sides also allege each other of violating the cease-fire agreement which was mediated by Saudi and US officials Monday.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) said the US and Saudi Arabia mediated the truce. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the agreement first and said it followed two days of intense negotiations, further adding “during this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire.”

In a statement, a WHO representative of Sudan noted: “Trained laboratory technicians no longer have access to the laboratory” and that the facility had suffered power cuts, meaning “it is not possible to properly manage the biological materials that are stored in the laboratory for medical purposes.”

The Director General of the laboratory main-tained that the power cuts also mean there is a risk of spoilage of depleting stocks of blood bags.

The danger lies in the outbreak of any armed confrontation in the laboratory because that will turn the laboratory into a germ bomb,” a medical person told CNN.—AFP