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

Without urgent action, MSF teams providing critical care may be forced to leave due to expiring visas.

Three MSF medical staff discuss patients at a mobile clinic in Wad Madani, Sudan.

Sudan 2023 © Ala Kheir/MSF

KHARTOUM, Sudan, August 8, 2023—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling on Sudanese authorities to urgently grant visas so that the organization can continue to provide critical support to the Turkish Hospital in southern Khartoum, Sudan.

An MSF team has helped keep the hospital open amid an armed conflict that has forced many medical facilities to close. These staff 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 its support to the hospital.

Claire Nicolet, MSF’s emergencies manager for Sudan, gave the following statement:

“The MSF team who are currently present inside the hospital have worked tirelessly with our partners in the Ministry of Health for more than two months to keep the facility open—and to expand the services it provides. They have stayed even in the wake of a serious incident in which our team suffered an assault, death threats, and theft.

"Despite our commitment to continue working in this hospital, the life-saving care our team are providing is now threatened by our inability to bring new staff into the country.

“The security situation and lack of fuel in Khartoum mean that every day brings a new challenge for our staff—on top of the daily challenge of keeping our patients alive. We need to be able to regularly replace our staff to keep meeting these challenges and providing life-saving care. We have a team on standby, ready to go—but without visas they cannot move. 

“Seven visas are critically required to replace our team in the Turkish Hospital. In addition to granting the visas we have already applied for, we are also appealing to the Sudanese authorities to put in place transparent processes for visa approval that will allow us to regularly replace our staff in the country.

“If we cannot bring in new staff, we will be forced to withdraw from the hospital. This will have a devastating impact on the people who remain in Khartoum who will need life-saving health care over the coming months.”

Responding to emergency needs

In the six weeks from mid-June to the end of July, MSF treated more than 3,800 patients in the Turkish Hospital. This included over 1,700 consultations in its emergency room—20 percent of which were war-wounded patients. In the same period, the hospital treated close to 800 people needing inpatient care, including more than 200 children. The majority of these pediatric cases have been neonates suffering from sepsis, jaundice, or malnutrition. Maternal health care is also a key service provided in this hospital, as is treatment for chronic diseases.

Sudan crisis response

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About MSF in Sudan

MSF has been responding to emergency needs in Sudan since armed conflict began in April and is currently working in 12 states: Khartoum, Kassala, Al-Jazeera, West Darfur, North Darfur, Central Darfur, South Darfur, Red Sea, El-Gedaref, Blue Nile, River Nile, and White Nile.

In and around Khartoum, in addition to the Turkish Hospital, MSF is providing surgical care to the war-wounded patients at Bashair Teaching Hospital, working in Al Nao Hospital in Omdurman, northwest Khartoum, and supporting other facilities. MSF currently has sufficient staff to maintain its activities in these other hospitals in Khartoum, but since the start of the conflict, the need to rotate new staff has been a recurring problem due to the ongoing difficulty in obtaining visas.


Sudan crisis response