Sudan: Humanitarian operations may grind to a halt

Dr. Ahmed Abd-elrahman, a Sudanese doctor with MSF-Brussels, describes growing challenges to providing care in Sudan.

A member of MSF's emergency surgical team treats a patient on a hospital bed at Bashair Hospital Khartoum, Sudan

Sudan 2023 © Ala Kheir/MSF

Dr. Ahmed Abd-elrahman, director of operations at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-Brussels, issued the following statement today on the crisis in Sudan. He is a Sudanese doctor who has worked with MSF for more than 17 years, including in Somalia, Pakistan, and Libya, and is currently directly supporting MSF teams in Sudan.

Amid the ongoing conflict, administrative and logistical challenges are impeding MSF's medical activities as moving supplies from one part of Sudan to another can be extremely difficult. Similarly, 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. These challenges come at a time when people are in dire need of health care.

Dr. Ahmed Abd-elrahman:

“As the situation stands today, I am gravely concerned that without additional staff and the ability to move essential supplies where they are needed, many of MSF’s lifesaving activities may have to be put on hold.

“Although we have been able to bring some supplies into the country, access remains very challenging.  Unhindered movement from points of entry to places where the supplies are needed has not been possible. Even where we had supplies pre-positioned in the country, looting and attacks on health care facilities and warehouses have reduced our stock significantly. It is crucial that supplies can continue to be brought into the country and move freely throughout it.

“Even more worryingly, across Sudan many medical facilities have been left short-staffed as people flee for safety. The few remaining dedicated humanitarian staff who have been able to come into Sudan are working under extreme pressure, and we have been struggling to reinforce our teams by bringing in additional international staff over the past two weeks.

“Our surgical team in Khartoum, for example, has been operating non-stop for more than ten days. If we are unable to rotate in another team, it may not be possible to continue these crucial activities.

"While we managed to obtain a few visas recently, we urgently need more. Without new staff and the possibility to move essential supplies in the country, many humanitarian operations in many parts of the country may grind to a halt.

“This is at a time when our teams are witnessing on a daily basis the direct impact of ongoing fighting on people in Khartoum and Darfur, as well as the health consequences of displacement in areas such as Wad Madani. In Wad Madani in Al-Jazeera state, the health system is under extreme pressure.

“MSF’s mobile clinics in Sudan have seen over 1,000 patients in just a few weeks. In Khartoum, the MSF surgical team has treated over 400 trauma patients since May 9. These activities are saving lives, and it is crucial to keep them running efficiently.

“We call on parties of the conflict to ensure humanitarian access and allow us to assist the Sudanese people.”

Learn more about how MSF is responding to the crisis in Sudan >