MSF urges for safety of medical teams as fighting escalates in Sudan
Since Saturday 15 April, intense fighting has been taking place between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan. Many people, including healthcare workers, are currently trapped. Where we are able to provide medical care, the situation is dire: Over the past 48 hours, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international humanitarian medical organisation, has received a total of 136 wounded patients at the hospital it supports in El Fasher, North Darfur – 11 have died from their injuries.
The majority of the wounded are civilians who were caught in the crossfire – among them are many children. They have extremely serious injuries and, until Saturday afternoon, there was no surgical capacity in this hospital.
Cyrus Paye, project coordinator for MSF in El Fasher, said: “The majority of the wounded are civilians who were caught in the crossfire – among them are many children. 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 to for treatment. As a result, 11 people died from their injuries in the first 48 hours of the conflict. However, on Saturday afternoon, a small team of surgeons from the hospitals that had to close began carrying out surgical interventions in the hospital. So far, they have carried out six major surgeries on people wounded by the violence.
We have received a list of surgical items that the surgical team urgently requires and we are seeking a safe corridor in order to transport these 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.”
The hospital is rapidly running out of medical supplies to treat survivors. It is running out of medicines and blood. 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.
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.
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, and 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 health facilities that are open due to the ongoing violence and fear that they will be risking their safety.
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 the safety of medical staff and patients, so that they can access healthcare facilities without fearing for their lives. We additionally request that all parties to the conflict ensure that all health facilities – including hospitals, clinics, warehouses and ambulances – are protected. They should never be a target. MSF in Sudan provides lifesaving and impartial medical care to all those who need it, based on medical need alone, but 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.