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El Fasher - July 2023

Nowhere safe from violent fighting in El Fasher as hospitals are repeatedly hit

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  • South Hospital in El Fasher has been hit twice in the past few days by mortars and shelling, killing and injuring patients and leaving nowhere safe in the city.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières once again calls urgently for the protection of civilians, health workers and health structures amidst the escalating violence that has engulfed the city.

El Fasher, Sudan – The intense, non-stop fighting in El Fasher, Sudan, leaves no safe place for civilians in the city as patients and medical staff are increasingly becoming part of the staggering civilian toll, warns Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

After the 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. Claire Nicolet, MSF programme manager for Sudan

“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,” says Claire Nicolet, MSF programme manager for 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,” she says.

El Fasher’s South Hospital was first hit on 25 May, 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 10 May,” says Abdifatah Yusuf Ibrahim, project coordinator with MSF.

El Fasher - July 2023
Patients rest while waiting to be treated inside El Fasher Hospital. Hospitals in El Fasher, North Darfur, have been repeatedly hit as violent fighting continues to escalate, leaving nowhere safe in the city. Sudan, July 2023.
MSF

“Sadly, 145 of these patients 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,” says Ibrahim.

An MSF employee was also killed on 25 May 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.

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

“Health facilities must remain safe for patients and staff, who are working under intense pressure to treat those who are in critical need of healthcare,” says Nicolet.

“We urge the warring parties in Sudan to spare medical facilities and respect their neutrality, and to uphold their obligation to protect civilians, healthcare workers and health structures,” she says.

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