Sudan: “The situation is catastrophic, many of the wounded are children”
In Sudan, fierce clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Force continue – civilians are caught in the crossfire or cut off from healthcare altogether.
Here, Cyrus Paye, a project coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), explains the situation at the MSF-supported South Hospital in the city of El Fasher, North Darfur.
There is currently heavy fighting in El Fasher.
We are still hearing gunfire from our compound as I speak. It is very unsafe because of the shooting and the shelling – there have been large numbers of civilian casualties.
At the hospital we support, we have received 279 wounded patients since the fighting began on Saturday. Tragically, 44 have died.
“There are only enough medical supplies to last another three weeks”
The situation is catastrophic. The majority of the wounded are civilians who were hit by stray bullets, and many of them are children. They have fractures caused by bullets, or they have gunshot wounds or shrapnel in their legs, their abdomen or their chest.
Many need blood transfusions. There are so many patients that they are being treated on the floor in the corridors because there simply aren’t enough beds to accommodate the vast number of wounded.
Surgery and supplies
Until last weekend, South Hospital had no surgical capacity. It was a maternity hospital that we began to support last year to help reduce the high rates of maternal mortality in the region.
However, since the fighting began, we have had to repurpose the hospital to make it possible to treat the wounded.
All other hospitals in the city have had to close due to their proximity to the fighting, or the inability of staff to reach them due to the intensity of the conflict. Surgeons from those hospitals have now come to our hospital and have been able to carry out a number of operations. However, they are rapidly running out of supplies.
How can I help MSF in Sudan?
Right now, our teams in Sudan are treating patients injured or affected by the conflict. This is only possible because of donations from people like you.
By giving to our general funds today, you will be helping ensure we can respond to emergencies around the world, including in Sudan.
Please donate today to support our emergency teams.
Click here to learn more about how we spend your money
We were able to reach and restock our hospital on Tuesday when there was a lull in the fighting, but if we cannot get more supplies to Darfur – and if we continue to receive such high numbers of wounded – there are only enough medical supplies to last another three weeks.
Currently, within Sudan, nothing can move.
The airports across the country have all been closed since the fighting began and there is fighting in the streets, so we cannot get more supplies to North Darfur, or into the country.
Chad has closed its border. So, if the situation doesn’t change and humanitarian access is not granted, there will be an even greater loss of life.
Pregnant women and newborns
As things stand, the two operating theatres that have been established cannot cope with the non-stop influx of trauma and emergency obstetrics/gynaecology patients.
In the maternity ward, there are currently two women in each bed.
“The current team are overwhelmed. They have been working around the clock.”
Previously, a neighbouring hospital was carrying out all emergency caesarian sections – usually around three to five per day – with more than 30 normal deliveries in a 24-hour period.
Now, all of these are taking place in South Hospital at the same time as the trauma surgeons are at work.
We heard just last night that the paediatric hospital where we used to refer neonatal patients was completely looted. This means that we now have nowhere to refer newborns who have sepsis or those who are born preterm.
There are no incubators in South Hospital, which will make it difficult to keep those children alive.
The current team are overwhelmed. They have been working around the clock.
We are exploring options to bring supplies and experienced trauma surgeons into the country to provide support when the situation allows, but – as is the case with medical supplies – currently, this is not possible.
It is critical that we are able to gain access to all health facilities across the country. At this moment in time, this is what will save people’s lives.
Health facilities are running out of supplies and staff cannot get to work. Health workers, relief workers and rescue workers have all become immobilised by the fighting and people are dying as a result.
Access is what will change this. That, and a guarantee from the warring parties that they will spare civilians’ lives.
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.