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Sudan

Sudan has been rocked by intense fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) since 15th April. The situation has resulted in an alarming number of casualties, with many civilians caught in the crossfire. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) staff is on the ground, working tirelessly to treat the wounded in El Fasher, North Darfur. Cyrus Paye, MSF Project Coordinator, sheds light on the situation and how MSF is responding.

According to Paye, the situation is extremely dire, with heavy fighting continuing in El Fasher. Gunfire and shelling can be heard from the MSF compound, and civilian casualties have reached catastrophic levels. The MSF-supported hospital has received 279 wounded patients since the fighting began, and tragically, 44 people have lost their lives. The majority of the wounded are civilians, including children, hit by stray bullets, and shrapnel in their legs, abdomen or chest. The hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of patients, with many being treated on the floor in corridors due to a lack of beds.

The fighting has immobilized health workers, relief workers and rescue workers, and health facilities are running out of supplies, with staff unable to get to work. As a result, people are dying. Paye emphasizes that access is crucial to changing the situation. However, currently, nothing can move within Sudan, with all airports closed since the fighting began, and Chad also closing its border. MSF is struggling to get supplies to North Darfur, and without humanitarian access, the loss of life will be even greater.

Until last weekend, South Hospital was a maternity hospital with no surgical capacity. However, MSF had to repurpose it to treat the wounded. Other hospitals in the city have had to close due to their proximity to the fighting, or because staff could not reach them due to the intensity of the conflict. Surgeons from those hospitals have now come to South Hospital to carry out operations, but they are rapidly running out of supplies. MSF was able to reach the hospital to restock it on Tuesday when there was a lull in the fighting. However, if they cannot get more supplies to Darfur and continue to receive high numbers of wounded, there are only enough medical supplies to last another three weeks.

The current team is overwhelmed, working round the clock to treat the non-stop influx of trauma and emergency obstetrics and gynaecology patients. In the maternity ward, two women now share each bed. A neighboring hospital previously carried out all emergency caesarean sections, with around three to five per day, and more than 30 normal deliveries in a 24-hour period. Now, all these are taking place at South Hospital, alongside the trauma surgeons’ work.

The situation has worsened, with the paediatric hospital looted, and there is nowhere to refer newborns with sepsis or those born preterm. There are no incubators at South Hospital, which will make it difficult to keep those babies alive.

MSF is exploring options to bring supplies and experienced trauma surgeons into the country to provide support when the situation allows. However, currently, this is not possible. It is crucial that MSF gains access to all health facilities across the country. Health facilities are running out of supplies, and staff cannot get to work, resulting in health worker, relief worker and rescue worker immobility, and people dying. Access is what will change this, along with a guarantee from the warring parties that civilians’ lives will be spared.

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