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Sudan: Despite UN resolution, civilians remain trapped by intense fighting in El Fasher

The only remaining hospital with surgical capacity was struck by shelling on June 21, killing a pharmacist

Displaced people at MSF's clinic in Zamzam camp, North Darfur, Sudan.

Displaced people at MSF's clinic in Zamzam camp, North Darfur. | Sudan 2024 © Mohamed Zakaria

More than a week after the United Nations Security Council called for an end to the fighting in El Fasher, Sudan, intense violence is continuing in the city, including attacks on medical facilities, and humanitarian aid cannot enter, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today.

On the night of June 21, shelling by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) hit the pharmacy of Saudi Hospital, which MSF is supporting, and which is now the only hospital in El Fasher with surgical capacity. A pharmacist with the Ministry of Health was killed while on her shift, and the pharmacy building was damaged.

Although Saudi 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 nearby. Yesterday one person was killed just 200 meters away from the hospital and a third person was killed close to MSF’s staff accommodation. The total number of people injured on June 21 is not known.

Michel-Olivier Lacharité, head of MSF’s emergency operations, gave the following statement today:

“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.

“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. 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 pediatric hospital was forced to close due to damage caused by an SAF [Sudanese Armed Forces] airstrike.

A hole shot through the wall of a hospital in El Fasher, Sudan.
Damage to South Hospital in El Fasher, North Darfur, on May 30. Sudan 2024 © MSF

"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.

"We urge the warring parties to protect civilians and hospitals and 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.”

Sudan crisis response