Khartoum: Aid in jeopardy as MSF staff face beatings, death threats and theft
On the afternoon of July 20, four MSF staff as well as four truck drivers and a team of 10 daily workers were stopped by a group of armed men while transporting medical supplies to the Turkish Hospital in southern Khartoum, where MSF provides health care.
After arguing about the reasons for MSF’s presence, the armed men then aggressively assaulted our team, physically beating and whipping them, as well as detaining the driver of one of our vehicles. The armed men threatened the driver’s life before releasing him. They then stole the vehicle. Following this horrific incident, MSF is warning that the organization’s activities in this hospital are now in serious jeopardy and will not be able to continue if minimum safety guarantees are not met.
“In order to save people’s lives, the lives of our staff who are there to carry out this lifesaving work must not be put at risk. If an incident like this happens again, and if our ability to move supplies continues to be obstructed, then, regrettably, our presence in the Turkish Hospital will soon become untenable”,Christophe Garnier, MSF’s emergencies manager for Sudan
The Turkish Hospital is one of only two hospitals that remain open in the whole of southern Khartoum – both of which are supported by MSF. MSF is one of only a few international medical humanitarian organizations that is still present in the city, supporting hospitals in east Khartoum and Omdurman in addition to south Khartoum. MSF is here helping the Ministry of Health keep the hugely fragile health system afloat, but following yesterday’s incident – and the series of incidents that have preceded it – the organization is beginning to think that its ongoing support may soon no longer be possible.
This incident happened just 700 metres away from the Turkish Hospital, where hundreds of patients – including children – are currently undergoing treatment. Only yesterday we received 44 patients who were wounded in an airstrike. Three and a half weeks ago, we received another mass influx of war wounded people – mainly women and children – who were injured following the escalation of fighting around the Central Reserve Police headquarters. On a daily basis, this hospital receives around 15 war wounded patients, carries out lifesaving surgery and keeps patients with chronic diseases alive. Our teams work around the clock under intense conditions to treat all those who need care, yet when they leave the hospital they are being physically assaulted and abused.
MSF has treated over 1,600 war wounded patients in Khartoum since the conflict began and our intentions are to continue to do this. However, the security situation has deteriorated so dramatically over the past few weeks that our presence in the Turkish Hospital is now in question.