"We came to Sudan seeking safety. Now we are trapped.”

Refugees and other vulnerable communities people face further medication and food shortages as fighting in Sudan continues.

Moulay Alm Asmlash and his Family in Um Rakuba, Al-Gedaref State, Sudan

Sudan 2023 © MSF

The fighting that erupted in Sudan on April 15 has left people in Khartoum and other states in life-threating situations. Amidst the violence, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has remained in Sudan to support those in need. We have been providing urgent medical care to wounded people in North Darfur and Khartoum, and we are donating medical supplies to health facilities. We also continue to provide health care in Central and West Darfur and in Blue Nile State and conduct emergency activities in Al-Jazeera State. 

The support doesn't end there. As the current crisis continues, MSF is maintaining efforts to assist vulnerable people, including refugees from neighboring countries who have found themselves trapped in yet another stream of violence. We are working in Um Rakuba and Tinedba camps in Al-Gederaf state to provide essential medical care to Ethiopian refugees and local communities, including sexual and reproductive health and mental health services. We also provide referrals to higher-level health facilities, health promotion, advocacy, and training for emergency preparedness. 

Staying committed to refugees and host communities

Due to the recent fighting across Sudan, our activities in Um Rakuba camp have been impacted by supply issues. As a result, the focus of operations has shifted to emergency lifesaving activities, mostly for pediatrics, malnutrition, and maternity. 

“As MSF, we are committed to keep providing medical care to refugees and host populations in Um Rakuba refugee camp. We have just received news of new arrivals in the area, and we will be ready to adapt our response based on the main emergency needs,” said Francesca Arcidiacono, MSF Head of Mission in Sudan. 

“Last week, I was in the camp and at the hospital,” she continued. ”When speaking with refugees, it was clear that they are afraid for the future. They feel trapped, as they cannot travel. They worry about a reduction of humanitarian activities, shortages of supplies, and much uncertainty about what will come next.”

Moulay Alm Asmlash is a 53-year-old father who arrived at Um Rakuba camp in 2020 as a refugee. He suffered from diabetes for a long time and went to the MSF hospital for treatment and medication. Fortunately, he found the treatment he needed, and since then, he and his family have been receiving regular treatment at the MSF hospital.

“Last autumn, my daughter got sick with malaria and received treatment from MSF,” he said. “Now, most organizations have stopped working and providing services due to the violence and fighting. We are afraid. We fled to Sudan because of the war, but the situation now is also difficult. I always think about my treatment, and I'm afraid that MSF may be forced to leave the camp due to these violent circumstances. I can't afford to buy medication, and we are poor.”

Stom Abdulrahman, Refugee in Um Rakuba, Al-Gedaref State, Sudan
"All of our neighbors take their children to the MSF hospital," said Stom Abdulrahman, who relies on the services provided by MSF in Um Rakuba camp.
Sudan 2023 © MSF

Vulnerable communities face medication, food shortages

Sudan hosts more than one million refugees from neighboring countries, such as South Sudan and Ethiopia, who fled violence and sought shelter in the country before violence broke out in April. Unfortunately, they now find themselves trapped in another conflict that further hinders their ability to cope. 

The ongoing fighting has resulted in a displacement crisis, adding to the difficulties faced by vulnerable people in need of humanitarian assistance. According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of internally displaced people has doubled in one week, reaching 700,000. This adds to around 3.7 million people who were already displaced in Sudan before the current crisis. 

“When the fighting began in Khartoum, all supplies of medicine and food products were halted in most of the states of Sudan,” said Mohamed Omar Mohamed, MSF Project Coordinator Support in the refugee camp in Um Rakuba. There was also a large displacement of many families living in Khartoum to other states, including Al Gedaref, which increased the pressure on medical and health institutions, in addition to the rise in prices and inflation in the market.”

Children and women have been particularly vulnerable after they were forced to flee to Sudan from violence in their home countries. 

“I have suffered a lot from going to some hospitals to receive treatment, especially since we cannot afford the costs of treatment,” said Stom Abdulrahman, who relies heavily on the services provided by MSF in Um Rakuba camp. 

“I went to the MSF hospital in Um Rakuba camp and received examinations, consultations, and medications. All of our neighbors take their children to the MSF hospital. The MSF health promotion team visits me regularly and provides me with information about cleanliness, environmental sanitation, and disease prevention. I thank you all for helping me and my husband to receive treatment.”

Across Sudan, MSF-supported facilities continue to provide medical care in El Fasher, North Darfur, Kreinik, West Darfur, Rokero, Zalingei, Central Darfur, Um Rakuba, Tinedba, El-Gedaref, Ad-Damazin, Blue Nile State, and Al-Jazeera state. We have also made donations to health facilities in Khartoum. In Wad Madani, we are running mobile clinics and are distributing hygiene kits, food staples, and non-food items. We continue to work on scaling-up our response as the crisis in Sudan continues.