El Fasher, Sudan. 2 weeks since the beginning of the clashes. May 1 2023. © Mohamed Gibreel Adam/MSF

Sudan: No place is safe from violent fighting in El Fasher as hospital are repeatedly hit

Hospitals hit and death toll soars as violent fighting engulfs El Fasher, Sudan, leaving nowhere safe in the city; MSF calls urgently for protection of civilians, health workers and health structures.

The intense, non-stop fighting in El Fasher leaves no safe place for civilians in the city as patients and medical staff are increasingly becoming part of the staggering civilian toll, warns Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). After MSF supported South Hospital was hit twice over the past few days, all three major medical facilities in the city have been damaged as the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces face off in North Darfur’s capital. Only two of these facilities are still able to function.

“We see a bloodbath unfolding before our own eyes in El Fasher. The intensity of the fighting is leaving civilians with no respite and now hospitals are being increasingly engulfed in the fighting, making it harder and harder to treat the wounded”

Claire Nicolet, MSF program manager, Sudan

“Medical facilities should be protected and the warring parties should respect their neutral role as sanctuaries for the sick and wounded where people can safely receive medical assistance,” says Claire Nicolet, MSF programme manager for Sudan.

El Fasher’s South Hospital was first hit on May 25, when a mortar landed on the ante-natal care unit killing one person and injuring eight among patients and their families. The next day a shell landed inside the hospital and injured three more people, while its fragments from the explosion broke the windows of the delivery room and of the ambulance. Three other shells landed outside the hospital.

“South Hospital is very congested: it is the only hospital capable of treating the mass arrivals of wounded people and has received over 1,000 patients since fighting began in the city on May 10.  Sadly, 145 of them were in critical conditions and died from their injuries. Now the hospital finds itself on the frontlines, with a significant risk of going out of service”

Abdifatah Yusuf Ibrahim, MSF project coordinator

Already, children in El Fasher lost access to specialist treatment when a bomb landed close to the city’s only paediatric hospital on May 11, killing two children who were in the intensive care unit and damaging the facility. Saudi maternity hospital was hit on May 19.

“Health facilities must remain safe for patients and staff, who are working under intense pressure to treat those who are in critical need of health care. We urge the warring parties in Sudan to spare medical facilities and respect their neutrality, and to uphold their obligation to protect civilians, health care workers and health structures” says Claire Nicolet.

An MSF employee was killed on May 25 when his house, which was located close to the city’s main market, was hit by the shelling in another demonstration of how no place in El Fasher is spared by the violence of this conflict.