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.
Our healthcare projects and hospitals – in some places the only medical facilities still open – are treating an influx of critical patients: the war-wounded, pregnant women in labour, and chronically ill people with nowhere else to go.
At the same time, MSF teams in neighbouring Chad are receiving huge numbers of injured refugees who have travelled for miles to reach urgent care.
The situation is extremely fast-moving. The information below is correct as of 22 August 2023.
What is MSF doing?
Right now, MSF teams in Sudan are working in ten states across the country and are seeing immense humanitarian needs.
- MSF-supported hospitals are providing emergency trauma care to war-wounded people and vital ‘continuity of care’ to patients cut off from essential medical services.
- The MSF-supported hospital in El Fasher, North Darfur, received a large number of wounded patients early on, and has now treated over 1,000 war-wounded patients. Their injuries include second- and third-degree burns, fractures, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and limb loss.
- A specialist MSF surgical team deployed to Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum in May. The surgical activities are ongoing, with 587 procedures performed in July. In the same month, the emergency room received 1,073 patients, more than 60 percent of whom had experienced violent trauma such as gunshot wounds and injuries casued by explosions.
- MSF teams have helped to transform the Turkish Hospital in Khartoum from a paediatric and maternity hospital into a facility that can now perform life-saving surgeries and treat the survivors of mass casualty events such as bombings. In July alone, the hospital treated 3,179 patients, 201 of which were children, and 214 of whom were treated for war injuries.
- At Adré Hospital, across the border in Chad, one MSF-supported hospital saw 348 injured patients in a single day, with a total of almost 900 wounded arriving over just four days. Many had sustained gunshot wounds while fleeing the under-siege city of El Geneina in West Darfur. With the hospital overwhelmed, we deployed our inflatable hospital on 27 June - providing an additional 170 beds and two operating theatres.
- In Wad Madani, we are running mobile clinics and providing clean drinking water for people who have had to flee the intense fighting in Khartoum. Our teams are also supporting the local maternity hospital, ER and orthopedic trauma centre as they work to provide care for displaced and local people.
- Our teams are treating children for malnutrition in several states, with the team in remote, mountainous north Jebel Mara reporting that the seasonal increase in malnutrition is occurring earlier than usual, in part because food supplies have been disrupted by the conflict. In Blue Nile State the MSF team has added additional nutrition wards under tents to meet demands.
- Clinics and hospitals have been forced to close across the country. MSF teams continue to run medical projects in parts of Central and South Darfur, Al-Gedaref State, Blue Nile State and White Nile State.
- Medical supplies are running critically low across Sudan. As well as supporting MSF hospitals, our logistics teams have delivered fuel and supplies to under-pressure hospitals across Khartoum, North, South and Central Darfur, Red Sea, River Nile, and in Al-Jazeera states.
In some parts of Sudan, our teams have been unable to provide care due to intense fighting or intrusions and looting at our existing medical projects. Across the country, our colleagues, as well as our patients, remain trapped by the conflict. Importantly, however, MSF does not plan to leave Sudan.
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.
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The crisis: Explained
Following a military coup in 2021, most international aid to Sudan was frozen. This led to an economic crisis and increased food insecurity.
Sudan’s healthcare system was also extremely fragile even before the recent escalation in violence and access to basic medical services has been a challenge for most people.
This critical situation has been caused by a combination of recurring violence and conflict, the economic situation and the cost of healthcare, and an overall lack of medical staff and resources.
Added to this, the sharp decline in international aid has had consequences including reduced vaccination coverage and increased malnutrition among children.
Before the conflict, around 78,000 children under five were dying each year due to preventable causes such as malaria. Since 15 April, around 50,000 children with accurate malnutrition have had their treatment disrupted.
Pregnancy and childbirth care is another vulnerable area – Sudan already had a high maternal mortality rate, with around 25 percent of births unattended by a skilled healthcare professional. At the start of the conflict, it was estimated that there were 219,000 pregnant women in Khartoum alone, with 24,000 due to give birth.
The stark reality is that Sudan’s healthcare system has been on the verge of collapse for decades. However, with the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and security situation, low-running supplies and under-pressure staff, it is now at breaking point.
MSF in Sudan: Before the conflict
MSF has been working in Sudan since 1979. We have been providing medical aid throughout the civil war that led to the split with South Sudan in 2011, and the decade-long conflict in the Darfur region.
Before the recent escalation in violence on 15 April 2023, we were running 11 medical projects across 12 states. This included 24 healthcare facilities, from mobile clinics to hospitals.
In 2022, MSF teams in Sudan held 449,654 outpatient consultations, admitted 21,664 people to hospital, treated 5,621 children for malnutrition and assisted in 2,791 deliveries.