Sudanese Babakr Hamidah Al-Tayeb, 73, dedicated his life thirty years ago to volunteering in washing and burying the dead.
He spent his days between hospitals in the city of Wad Madani, approximately 200 kilometers southeast of Khartoum, and its cemeteries.
However, the outbreak of war seven months ago has burdened and increased his responsibilities.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Tayeb says that burying decomposed bodies has intensified his suffering and exhaustion.
He adds that over three decades of burying the dead, he has become immune to the smell of corpses to the extent that he “never wears a mask.”
Since the outbreak of the war in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, Al-Tayeb’s responsibilities have increased.
His city has become overcrowded with thousands of displaced people, including a significant percentage of elderly individuals or those suffering from chronic diseases.
In the absence of medication and medical care, the number of deaths among the displaced has risen.
The displaced in Wad Madani face harsh conditions.
According to Al-Tayeb, when someone dies in hospitals or shelters, their relatives struggle with how to bury them. Many cannot even afford the cost of a shroud.
Faced with this dilemma, they are advised to contact Al-Tayeb to take charge, especially since some of the displaced are unaware of burial arrangements due to their young age or the trauma of war.
Millions of Sudanese have fled Khartoum to escape death under the rain of bullets, but many have died either from chronic diseases and the lack of medication or as a result of epidemics stemming from deteriorating living and humanitarian conditions.
“I wash the dead in hospitals, in cemeteries, or even in my home at any time, and my children assist me with this task after obtaining permission from the deceased's relatives,” Al-Tayeb told Asharq Al-Awsat.
There are no companies or entities in Sudan that handle burial services. Typically, the burial task falls on the people of the village, neighborhood, or region, considering it a religious ritual.