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Sudan crisis: MSF teams respond to “horror” of Khartoum’s deadliest weekend

13 Sep 23 | 25 Sep 23

Sudan crisis: MSF teams respond to “horror” of Khartoum’s deadliest weekend

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams have treated over 100 people wounded at separate and deadly attacks across Khartoum.

At least 49 people were killed in the strikes on 9 and 10 September, making this the deadliest weekend witnessed by MSF in the capital since the beginning of the conflict in Sudan, five months ago.

Early on Sunday morning, 43 people were killed in an explosion in the busy Gorro market.

Over 60 wounded were treated in the MSF-supported Bashair Teaching Hospital in South Khartoum.

“The horror of the day was overwhelming,” says Marie Burton, MSF emergency coordinator in Khartoum.

“For hours, dozens of bodies lay under sheets in the hospital’s courtyard until their families came to identify their lost loved ones. 

“And in the meantime, our staff tried their best to save the lives of the survivors, whose wounds were testament to the incredible power of the weaponry used: body parts torn off, abdomens ripped open. 

“Even though this war has been going on for nearly five months, the Sudanese volunteers on whom the hospital relies are still shocked by what they witnessed.”

Medical staff treating wounded patients at the MSF-supported Bashair Hospital in South Khartoum Caption
Medical staff treating wounded patients at the MSF-supported Bashair Hospital in South Khartoum

The previous day in the afternoon, the residential area of Al-Haj Youssef was also struck, damaging houses and injuring dozens of people. The MSF-supported hospital, Alban Al-Jadeed, received 45 casualties and six people who were already dead upon arrival.                           

“The hospital is very close to the site of the attack,” says Christian Mas Bouilloud, the MSF medical coordinator in Khartoum.

“Our teams heard a loud explosion, so they rushed to prepare for the emergency. Soon after that, patients started arriving in groups. Most patients had shrapnel wounds, many of them were critical. 

"It's horrific that residential areas, such as homes and markets, are being hit.”

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These figures only account for patients directly treated by MSF teams. Other organisations reported casualties in the sprawling capital which was home to four million people before the conflict.

And, it wasn’t only Khartoum which saw the tragic impact of violence in Sudan over the weekend. 

In El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, MSF teams working alongside the Ministry of Health in South Hospital responded to a massive influx of patients on Saturday 9 September. This followed heavy fighting between the warring parties in the city. 

Forty-eight patients received treatment, mostly for injuries caused by explosions and bullets. Sadly, four patients lost their lives. 

£24 could pay for three splints used to immobilise the limbs of injured patients

The generosity of people like you means expert MSF medical teams can deliver essential medical care to people across the world.

Responding to mass casualty incidents after extreme violence is becoming a regular occurrence for MSF teams. 

The weekend before, on 2 September, following a strike on another market in south Khartoum, the MSF-supported Turkish Hospital received 21 dead and six severely injured people who were treated in the emergency room. 

On 3 September, our medical teams in Omdurman treated more than 50 violence-related injuries following renewed fighting in Umbada. Eight patients died from gunshot or blast injuries.

MSF and the crisis in Sudan

On Saturday 15 April, intense fighting broke out across Sudan with a wave of gunfire, shelling and airstrikes.

The violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has trapped millions of people in the middle of an unexpected conflict. Many have been forced to flee their homes while access to essential services such as healthcare has become increasingly difficult.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams already working in Sudan have been responding to the crisis since its first moments.