Siddig Frini, the general manager of Khartoum state’s ministry of social development, became visibly emotional during his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat as he described the distressing conditions endured by 340 children, ranging in age from one day to four years, at the Mygoma Orphanage.
Heartbreakingly, newborns have met untimely deaths as a result of power outages and the catastrophic impact of war in Sudan.
Tragic deaths have struck the orphanage in Khartoum, where dozens of children lost their lives amid fierce military confrontations between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Compounding the devastation, a neighboring building was hit by a shell.
Furthermore, the children have been deprived of crucial nourishment as most of the orphanage’s staff members have been unable to access the facility, leaving them without essential meals and milk throughout the day.
Frini underscored difficulties experienced by Mygoma, revealing that one child is dying each day.
He acknowledged that, due to the ongoing power outages, a reduction in the number of deaths at the orphanage cannot be assured.
However, Frini expressed his openness to hearing any suggestions that could help improve the children’s situation and protect their lives.
He emphasized the significance of child welfare experts and community support in securing a brighter future for the children.
Moreover, Frini firmly rejected the notion of children being casualties of the conflict between warring factions.
“I am willing to purchase an electrical generator on credit because I currently do not have enough money to buy it outright,” Frini told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The orphanage continues to receive children from all states of Sudan. Mygoma recently welcomed seven children in a single day,” he added.
Frini announced his willingness to approach proposals advocating for the transfer of residents, including the children of Mygoma, outside Khartoum.
However, he emphasized that the top priority is to prevent any further loss of lives at the orphanage. This can be achieved by providing an electrical generator, fuel, or restoring the electricity supply to Mygoma.
Additionally, Frini revealed that Khartoum Governor Ahmed Osman is in contact with relevant parties, including UNICEF, to stabilize the situation at Mygoma and other similar facilities.
Frini pointed out that among the proposals is the transfer of 80 newborn infants to Port Sudan and relocating others to Wad Madani city.
“We will not turn our backs on the organizations that have shouldered the greatest burden in managing the facilities during this period,” Frini told Asharq Al-Awsat.
According to Mygoma’s Director Zainab Jouda, 35 children, mostly newborns, have sadly died at the state-run facility since the armed clashes started on April 15.
Within a span of two days, 14 children passed away due to fever.
Before the war, the orphanage had 450 attending mothers taking care of over 400 children in four shifts.
However, after the war, the number decreased to 15 mothers responsible for the care of 200 newborn infants.
Noting the shortage of mothers, she recognized the adverse effects on the children's nutrition and care. As a result, the orphanage administration has appealed for volunteers to step in and assist in caring for the children at the facility.
Regarding the bombardment of Mygoma with heavy weapons, Jouda said: “A shell struck the neighboring building, causing shrapnel to damage a portion of the orphanage's roof.”
“The children were moved to the ground floor, and some of the bullets penetrated through several offices,” she added.
Established in 1961, Mygoma spans an area of 5,000 square meters. It used to receive between 40 and 45 children monthly prior to the outbreak of the war.