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Intense fighting in El Fasher - Darfur

People trapped, aid blocked, as UN resolution fails to stop fighting in El Fasher

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Nine days since the UN Security Council called for an end to the fighting in El Fasher, Sudan Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – one of the few international humanitarian organisations still present in the city – warns that hospitals continue to be attacked, and that no outside help can reach the city due to the intensity of the violence. 

On the night of Friday 21 June, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shelling hit the pharmacy of the MSF-supported Saudi hospital in El Fasher. A pharmacist was killed while on her shift, and the pharmacy building was damaged.

Although the hospital remains open and is still treating patients today, it has been damaged and is only partially functional. More supplies are urgently needed to continue to treat the wounded, and a further attack is feared due to the continued fighting close by. Yesterday, one person was killed just 200 metres away from the hospital and a third person was killed close to MSF’s staff accommodation. The total number of people injured on Friday is not known. 

We are seeing a cycle of offensives and counterattacks where hospitals are not being spared and the warring parties are failing in their responsibilities to protect civilians. Michel-Olivier Lacharité, head of MSF’s emergency operations

“In El Fasher we are seeing a cycle of offensives and counterattacks where hospitals are not being spared and the warring parties are failing in their responsibilities to protect civilians,” says Michel-Olivier Lacharité, head of MSF’s emergency operations. “Since the fighting began six weeks ago, over 260 people have been killed and over 1,630 wounded – these figures include women and children.”

“We do not know if hospitals are being deliberately targeted, but their protection is an imperative that must be respected,” says Lacharité. “Civilians are trapped and cannot leave. Their lives must be protected and they must be able to receive treatment if they need it.” 

This is the second time Saudi hospital has been impacted since the fighting began, and the eighth time a hospital has been hit in the city over the past six weeks. Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Health was forced to close South hospital after it was attacked a fifth time. Prior to that, the paediatric hospital was forced to close due to damage caused by a Sudanese Armed Forces airstrike. As a result of these incidents, Saudi hospital – which was previously a specialist maternity hospital – has become the only health facility in the city with surgical capacity and the ability to treat the wounded. Now, its ability to keep its doors open is also in jeopardy.

“We urgently need to bring in more supplies and more personnel to be able to respond to this crisis, but the fighting is preventing us from being able to enter,” says Lacharité. “As well as protecting civilians and hospitals, we urge the warring parties to enable safe access so that we can continue to provide life-saving assistance to people in El Fasher and those in Zamzam camp where there is still a catastrophic malnutrition crisis and where unknown numbers of people have fled since the fighting began.” 

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Press Release 14 June 2024