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Sudan: MSF treats 220 wounded as intense fighting continues

18 Apr 23 | 21 Apr 23
This article is more than one year old

Sudan: MSF treats 220 wounded as intense fighting continues

An MSF nurse treating malaria patients at El Fasher Hospital, where our teams are currently responding to the conflict (photo taken October 2019) Caption
An MSF nurse treating malaria patients at El Fasher Hospital, where our teams are currently responding to the conflict (photo taken October 2019)

In Sudan, intense fighting has been taking place between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces since Saturday 15 April.

Clashes are affecting the capital Khartoum, as well as other parts of Sudan. Many people, including healthcare workers, are currently trapped.

Where Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams are able to provide medical care, the situation is dire.

As of Wednesday 19 April, we have received 220 wounded patients at the MSF-supported hospital in El Fasher, North Darfur. Sadly, 34 have died of their injuries.

Latest story: “The situation is catastrophic, many of the wounded are children”

Caught in the crossfire

“The majority of the wounded are civilians who were caught in the crossfire – among them are many children,” says Cyrus Paye, MSF project coordinator in El Fasher.

“They have extremely serious injuries and, until Saturday afternoon, there was no surgical capacity in this hospital.

“All other hospitals in North Darfur have had to close – either due to their proximity to the fighting, or due to the inability of staff to get to the facilities because of the violence. This meant that there was nowhere for us to refer patients for treatment. As a result, 11 patients died from their injuries in the first 48 hours of the conflict.

“However, a small team of surgeons from the hospitals that had to close have now begun carrying out surgical interventions in this hospital. So far, they have carried out six major surgeries on people wounded by the violence.”

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“The hospital is rapidly running out of medical supplies to treat survivors,” continues Cyrus.

“There has also been a power outage in the city since the beginning of the fighting and fuel supplies for the hospital generator are also running low. We are also seeking a safe corridor in order to transport urgently needed surgical supplies to the hospital using our two ambulances.

“Due to the conflict, the airport has been closed since Saturday, and it is vital that it is re-opened so that we can bring in additional medical supplies and possibly an MSF surgical team to support the surgeons who are currently at work.

“Without these vital supplies, there will be further loss of life.”

Trapped and low on supplies

Elsewhere in the country, and especially in Khartoum, Darfur, North Kordofan and Gedaref states, MSF teams face serious challenges.

MSF premises in Nyala, South Darfur, have been looted, including one of our warehouses. In Khartoum, most teams are trapped by the ongoing heavy fighting and are unable to access warehouses to deliver vital medical supplies to hospitals.

Even ambulances are being turned back. They are not being permitted to pass in order to retrieve the bodies of the dead from the streets or to transport those who have been injured to hospital.

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We have been in contact with Sudanese medical teams in Khartoum and other parts of the country where wounded patients are being received. Many have been on duty for many hours, providing lifesaving care in extremely difficult circumstances despite the impact of the situation on them and their own families.

We are ready to provide supplies and medical personnel to key functional health facilities that need support, but it is too dangerous for anyone to move within Khartoum and other cities.

Many people also cannot reach any of the healthcare facilities that are open due to the ongoing violence and fear that they will be risking their safety.

An urgent call

MSF is making an urgent call for civilians to be protected from the ongoing indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that are taking place.

We urge all parties to the conflict to guarantee safety for medical staff and patients so that they can access healthcare facilities without fearing for their lives.

We also request that all parties to the conflict ensure that all healthcare facilities – including hospitals, clinics, warehouses and ambulances – are protected. They should never be a target.

MSF in Sudan provides life-saving and impartial medical care to all those who need it, based on medical need alone. However, currently, we cannot move due to the intensity of the conflict.

We reiterate our plea for all those participating in the violence to respect medical personnel, health facilities and ambulances and to spare the lives of civilians and humanitarian workers.

MSF, conflict and war

In conflicts and war zones, MSF does not take sides. We provide medical care based on needs alone and try to reach the people who need help most.

If warring parties see aid organisations as being on one side of a conflict, we are less likely to gain access to those in need and more likely to be attacked.

One of the ways in which we are able to demonstrate our independence to warring parties is to ensure that all our funding for work in conflicts comes from private individuals – we do not accept government grants.