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Timeline: War in Sudan

As the conflict in Sudan continues, here are some of the key moments since it started in April.

A woman in a yellow scarf and her child who are internally displaced in Sudan due to the current conflict.

Sudan 2023 © Ahmad Mahmoud/MSF

Last updated on January 9, 2024

It has been nearly nine months since the conflict in Sudan began in Khartoum and quickly spread throughout the country. Since then, much of the country has been gripped by armed conflict, including devastating attacks on civilians and residential areas, which have forced more than 7 million people to flee their homes while others remain trapped by the fighting. Hospitals are stretched to capacity, medical supplies are low, and in many parts of the country, humanitarian aid has come to a halt.
  
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have been on the ground in Sudan providing medical care and donating supplies. We're also working neighboring countries like Chad, Central African Republic, and South Sudan, where millions of Sudanese refugees have fled since April. Here are some of the key moments we have witnessed in this ongoing conflict.
 

April

Intense fighting breaks out in Khartoum

APRIL 15

Violence erupts between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan. Over the next 48 hours, MSF receives 136 wounded patients at the hospital we support in El Fasher, North Darfur, 11 of whom died from their injuries.

Read more >

A scene of the city of Khartoum and a billowing fire in the background.
A bullet hole shot through glass at an MSF facility in Khartoum, Sudan.

Left: Smoke fills the sky in Khartoum; Right: a bullet hole left in a window on MSF's premises in Khartoum on April 21.

"We are still hearing gunfire from our compound"

APRIL 20

“There are so many patients that they are being treated on the floor in the hospital hallways because there simply aren’t enough beds to accommodate the vast number of wounded.”

Read more >

MSF team looks at a map in a briefing held while sheltering in a bunker in Khartoum, Sudan
Members of MSF's team in Sudan hold a briefing about the security situation in a bunker without electricity in Khartoum on April 2022. Sudan 2023 © Camille Marquis/MSF

A voice from the bunker

APRIL 21

“Quickly, we all went down to the safe room of our guesthouse, in the basement. I spent the day there, along with more than 10 colleagues, jumping at the sound of shooting [...] The silences often just meant another blast was coming.”

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MSF bunker in Khartum
A hand holding a bullet that fell near MSF premises in Khartoum, Sudan

"The sound was echoing in the room; walls and small windows were shaking," says Camille Marquis, MSF advocacy manager. Sudan 2023 © Camille Marquis/MSF

Staff seek shelter as aerial bombardment interrupts donation

APRIL 27

Dr. Ghazali Babiker on how he and his team had to take cover from aerial bombardments and shelling while they were loading supplies to donate to a hospital: “It was very close, and we had to seek shelter and try to postpone the movement until everything is clear.” 

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Looting of El Geneina Teaching Hospital

APRIL 28

Parts of the MSF-supported El Geneina Teaching Hospital in West Darfur were looted during a violent intrusion. Widespread looting and destruction have been reported across the city of El Geneina, including burning property and attacks at the central market, gathering sites, and camps where displaced people are living.

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Signs with messages promoting safety on the exterior of El Geneina hospital in West Darfur, Sudan
Empty bed frames at El Geneina hospital, West Darfur, after it was looted.

Left: El Geneina Teaching Hospital in West Darfur, which is supported by MSF; Right: Inside its inpatient department after it was partially looted on April 27. Sudan 2023 © MSF

May

Lack of water, power, and fuel impact lifesaving care in Sudan

MAY 1

"There is no water. There is also no electricity. Lack of fuel has impacted all the life-saving services. Due to safety, referral of hot cases and [access to] life-saving [treatment] at night is not possible due to a lack of security and movement.”

Read more >

Darfur fighting disrupts medical care in Zamzam camp

MAY 12

The residents of Zamzam camp in North Darfur went several weeks without any access to health care due to intense fighting and insecurity in and around El Fasher, which prevented MSF's team from being able to return to the camp until May 7. 

Read more >

MSF teams join local doctors, nurses, and volunteers to treat trauma patients at Bashair Teaching Hospital

MAY 17

MSF medical and surgical teams at Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum are working closely with local Sudanese medical professionals and volunteers, treating more than 240 patients for traumatic injuries since May 9. 

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Dr. Hisham Eid, part of MSF's emergency surgical team at Bashair Hospital in Khartoum, Sudan

"When we arrived, the situation was chaotic," says MSF's Dr. Hisham Eid. "A few doctors and volunteers were doing their best to attend to the high number of patients despite the shortage of all forms of supplies. Sudan 2023 © Ala Kheir/MSF

Dr. Sarah Hassan Ibrahim, part of the emergency surgical team at Bashair Hospital Khartoum, Sudan

“It was a relief to have the MSF team here as the demand—especially on the operating theater team and other medical staff—was huge," says Dr. Sarah Hassan Ibrahim, medical director of Bashair Teaching Hospital. Sudan 2023 © Ala Kheir/MSF

MSF condemns looting of medical facilities, harassment of staff

MAY 23

“People are in a desperate situation, and the need for health care is critical. These attacks make it so much harder for health care workers to help. It’s senseless.” 

A car stripped of its tires during a looting in Khartoum, Sudan.
Between May 16 - 20, an MSF warehouse in Khartoum was looted and occupied by armed men, who stole or damaged medical supplies, fuel, and vehicles. Some vehicles, as pictured, were left stripped of their tires. Sudan 2023 © MSF

Administrative and logistical challenges impede medical aid

MAY 26

Although MSF was able to bring emergency teams into Sudan during the first weeks of the conflict, it has since been challenging to obtain permission for them to travel to project locations or to secure visas for additional staff.

Read the statement >

Boxes of MSF donations to hospitals in Khartoum state, Sudan
The MSF team delivers a donation of medical supplies to Al Rahji Hospital in Umbada locality, Khartoum state, on May 15. The donations were transferred from the MSF warehouse in Omdurman. Sudan 2023 © MSF
June

MSF treats war-wounded people fleeing to Adré, Chad

JUNE 2

At a hospital in Ouaddaï province, eastern Chad, most of the injuries that MSF teams have treated are gunshot wounds inflicted in clashes and attacks in Masterei, a Sudanese border town south of West Darfur’s capital, El Geneina.

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X-ray of bullet lodged in neck of woman fleeing conflict in Sudan
Chad 2023 © Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

More than 1,000 ER patients received at Bashair Teaching Hospital

JUNE 15

"I cannot recall any time in recent years when MSF has treated anything like the number of trauma cases or done as many major surgeries as we have done in Khartoum," says Raphael Veicht, MSF emergency coordinator. Of more than 1,150 ER patients MSF received, 906 had violent trauma. 

Read more >

Two MSF doctors perform surgery on a patient in the emergency room at Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum, Sudan.
Sudan 2023 © MSF

Adré hospital sees 600+ war-wounded refugees in just three days

JUNE 16 - 19

On June 15, MSF treated at least 242 wounded people who arrived in Adré—with an additional 348 wounded brought into the hospital today. A large number of the wounded are from the capital of West Darfur, El Geneina, and the surrounding area. Local sources report that at least 1,100 people have been killed in El Geneina since the conflict began. 

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Renewed fighting in Khartoum forces people to flee to Wad Madani

JUNE 13

Large numbers of people are fleeing Khartoum to surrounding cities like Wad Madani, where around 5,000 people were already living across three major displacement camps. “[Many have] lost not only all their belongings and livelihoods, but also family members,” says Anja Wolz, an MSF medical coordinator.

Read more >

An MSF team distributes hygiene kits to displaced people in Wad Madani, Sudan.
An MSF team distributes hygiene kits to displaced people in Wad Madani on June 5. Sudan 2023 © Ala Kheir

MSF urges armed groups in and around El Geneina to spare civilians and allow people to safely flee

JUNE 19

After nearly two months of blockade and large-scale violence in El Geneina, thousands of people are now attempting a perilous escape to seek refuge in Chad. "On Wednesday night, the governor of West Darfur was killed,” says Nour, an MSF patient at Adré hospital. “At this moment we knew that the situation would get even worse, and it was a collective decision of the people of El Geneina to leave."

Read more >

Tents under blue sky in refugee camps of Sangour and Ajwal in White Nile state, Sudan
A view of Ajwal refugee camp in White Nile state, Sudan, where thousands of internally displaced people have fled. Sudan 2023 © Ahmad Mahmoud/MSF

Violence and bureaucratic obstruction threaten medical aid

JUNE 23

Violence and acute health needs persist across Sudan, especially in Khartoum and Darfur. The warring parties are hindering many attempts to expand MSF's lifesaving activities, despite both sides' public commitments to facilitate humanitarian assistance.

Read more >

July
MSF medical staff member wearing white lab coat and headscarf treats a patient sitting in hospital bed in White Nile state, Sudan.
MSF doctors treat children inside the measles isolation unit in Um Sangour refugee camp in White Nile state. Sudan 2023 © Ahmad Mahmoud/MSF

Daily power cuts with life or death consequences

JULY 3

Dr. Mego Terzian, MSF head of mission in Sudan, discusses the situation in Khartoum: “We have been trying for more than two and a half months to bring experienced emergency teams into Sudan to support the exhausted health workers here [...] Visas are taking weeks to be approved, cargo is at risk of being stolen, and our warehouses have frequently been looted."

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MSF teams turn an inflatable tent into an emergency field hospital

JULY 13

To handle the arrival of wounded patients in Adré, Chad, MSF teams set up an emergency field hospital using a modular kit made up of inflatable tents, with bed capacity for 170 patients, two operating theaters, X-ray technology, and more.

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MSF aid workers with an inflatable tent hospital lit up in the night in Chad
MSF's inflatable tent hospital in Adré. Chad 2023 © Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

MSF staff threatened and beaten in Khartoum

JULY 21

A team of 18 people working for MSF were violently assaulted by a group of armed men while transporting medical supplies to the Turkish Hospital in southern Khartoum. After arguing about the reasons for MSF’s presence, the armed men assaulted the MSF team, beating and whipping them. They detained the driver of an MSF vehicle, threatened his life before releasing him, and stole the vehicle. 

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Q&A: What it's like inside a hospital in El Fasher

JULY 14

An account from Mohammed Alfaqeeh, MSF project coordinator: "The lack of fuel, particularly diesel, recently halted the city's power and water supply for three weeks. The dire consequences included the deaths of 100 dialysis patients, who could no longer receive the treatment that was saving their lives. MSF has since received a request to provide fuel for this dialysis center, and we are now supplying 200 gallons per month."

Read more >

August

MSF calls for visas for surgeons, nurses, and other staff

AUGUST 8

MSF teams may soon be forced to leave due to expiring visas. If long-awaited visas are not granted to new staff, including surgeons, nurses, and other specialists, MSF may soon be forced to withdraw much-needed medical support.

Read more >

MSF's triage area at its clinic in Camp Ecole in Adré, Chad
Patients wait for triage at the MSF clinic in Camp Ecole in Adré, Chad on August 23. Chad 2023 © MSF

MSF calls for urgent international action to avoid health catastrophe for refugees

AUGUST 14

Sudanese refugees arriving in border areas of eastern Chad urgently need shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care, and protection, MSF warns, calling for the international community and humanitarian organizations to scale up their response to this crisis. More than 380,000 people have fled to Chad from Sudan. At least 2,000 people continue to arrive each day. Most are women and children.

Read more > 

Sudanese refugees try to collect water from the wadi near Ourang camp in Chad.
Sudanese refugees collect water near Ourang camp in eastern Chad, where water distribution is scarce. Chad 2023 © MSF

Escalating violence threatens Al Nao hospital in Omdurman

AUGUST 17

"As medics in Al Nao work round the clock, shells are landing nearby, causing yet more horror and threatening the hospital’s lifesaving work," says Frauke Ossig, MSF emergency coordinator in Sudan. "We call on warring parties to spare civilians from this unacceptable violence and ensure the protection of hospitals and health care workers. If hospitals cannot function, there will be even more misery and suffering.”

Read more > 

Thousands of refugees arrive in South Sudan in alarming health

AUGUST 31

MSF medical teams are seeing an alarming rise in measles and malnutrition among people fleeing from Sudan to South Sudan. MSF calls urgently for humanitarian organizations to provide food, shelter, sanitation, and medical screening.

Read more >

MSF vehicle parked in desert beside trees at night with windows alight.
The MSF team camps overnight in Upper Nile state, South Sudan. Some villages in the area are too far for round trips. Thousands of Sudanese refugees and returnees have fled to South Sudan since the start of the conflict. South Sudan 2023 © Paul Odongo/MSF
September

“The situation is very dangerous”: An MSF doctor reports from Khartoum

SEPTEMBER 1

An account from Dr. Mego Terzian, MSF head of mission in Sudan: "Currently, at the Turkish Hospital, MSF has only one rental vehicle with one courageous driver who is able to bring in medicines as well as food and water for our patients and staff. However, this is no easy task. There are multiple checkpoints on the roads, and at each one we need to explain our presence, the type of assistance that we are delivering, and why it is crucial that we are able to continue the supply chain to the hospital."

Read more >

Horrific attacks in residential areas in result in Khartoum’s deadliest days

SEPTEMBER 12

On September 10, an explosion in Khartoum's Gorro market killed 43 people and wounded more than 60 people who were treated at Bashair Teaching Hospital in south Khartoum, where MSF teams are working. "The horror of the day was overwhelming," said Marie Burton, MSF emergency coordinator in Khartoum.

Read more >

Khartoum: Deadliest weekend since conflict began
Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum received over 60 wounded patients and 43 deaths after an explosion in a market on September 10. Sudan 2023 © Marie Burton/MSF

MSF director of operations addresses United Nations General Assembly

SEPTEMBER 21

In a statement delivered in writing for the high-level ministerial event on Sudan at the UNGA, MSF director of operations Ahmed Abd-elrahman calls for urgent action: “Excellencies, distinguished guests, a catastrophic health crisis is upon us in Sudan. Yet our collective ability to address it head-on is in question.”

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Sudanese refugees at Camp Ecole in Adré, Chad.
Sudanese refugees at Camp Ecole in eastern Chad. Chad 2023 © MSF
October

"My house will be half full"

OCTOBER 6

The mother of two young MSF patients tells her story of losing three children to measles on the long journey to safety from Khartoum.

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A mother sits outside with her children—MSF patients—as they prepare meals at thet Renk Civil Hospital
South Sudan 2023 © Evani Debone/MSF

Omdurman: Al Nao hospital shelling leaves four dead

OCTOBER 9

Around 7:20 a.m., shelling struck the MSF-supported Al Nao hospital, one of the last functioning hospitals in Omdurman. The shells hit its emergency department, killing two patient caretakers and injuring five people who were immediately referred to other facilities. The hospital was treating patients at the time it was hit.

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WHO: 70 percent of Sudan’s medical facilities are no longer functioning

OCTOBER 12

MSF calls for humanitarian organizations to increase their response and for the warring parties to allow unhindered access. Our teams in Sudan report that emergency rooms are now severely overcrowded, while many people present with life-threatening wounds, often leaving no choice but to amputate.

Read more >

MSF suspends surgery in Khartoum hospital as supplies are blocked

OCTOBER 18

MSF continues to provide and support medical care at three other major hospitals in Khartoum and Omdurman, but some of these hospitals are running out of supplies as well.

Read more >

November

Resurgence of violence in El Geneina forces thousands to flee to Chad

NOVEMBER 7

From Nov. 1 to 3, about 7,000 people crossed the border near the city of Adré, in eastern Chad, where MSF teams treated 36 wounded people on Nov. 4 and 5. “In the first three days of November, we have seen more new arrivals of Sudanese refugees than during the whole previous month,” said Stephanie Hoffmann, MSF outreach coordinator in Adré.

Read more >

Ahmed Ibrahm and Leymona Ahmed with their children
Ahmed Ibrahm and Leymona Ahmed with their children at Wedweil refugee settlement in Northern Bahr El Ghazal. South Sudan 2023 © Oliver Barth/MSF

“If they didn't find money, they killed people in their homes”

NOVEMBER 8

Many refugees and returnees have made it from Sudan to Wedweil, South Sudan, after facing harrowing journeys to reach safety, witnessing the brutal killing of their friends and family, attacks and robberies by armed men, as well as many days of thirst and hunger. Now, they have a new reality to adapt to, with little food and few job opportunities.

Read more >

MSF calls for an end to the ban on lifesaving surgical supplies

NOVEMBER 14

If MSF is not able to bring in more supplies, the operating theater in the Turkish Hospital will have to close its doors and there is no doubt that the death toll of this war will rise further, as women, children, and men in need of lifesaving surgery will be unable to receive treatment. The ban on surgical supplies is unconscionable, it violates the laws of war, and it must be immediately reversed.

Read more >

January
MSF Director General Stephen Cornish visiting the hospital run by MSF in Adré refugee camp, eastern Chad
MSF Director General Stephen Cornish visits MSF's hospital in Adré refugee camp. Chad 2023 © Johnny Vianney Bissakonou/MSF

The world must not turn away from Sudanese refugees in Chad

JANUARY 3

MSF Director General Stephen Cornish describes the situation in camps hosting Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad: "With such a rapid and vast displacement of people fleeing harrowing violence, knowing the stories of what made them flee is very hard on the heart. So many people seeking refuge in the desert are relying on humanitarian aid, which is inadequate and sporadic. This cannot go on."

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MSF report exposes spiraling ethnic violence against people in Darfur

JANUARY 9

A retrospective mortality survey carried out by MSF found that deaths in the region increased dramatically among communities that were targeted by attacks since the eruption of war in Sudan in April 2023. Refugees who have fled West Darfur over the last six months described lootings, sexual violence, and massacres targeting the Masalit people.

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Sudan crisis response