MSF halts vital care deliveries to Khartoum’s Turkish hospital

Medical agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has suspended support to Khartoum’s Turkish hospital over violent assaults.

The agency said in a press release dated July 10 that it had taken the drastic action after more than a year of violent incidents and threats against the lives of its staff at the facility.

The statement recalled that MSF had managed to provide continuous hands-on, life-saving treatment in the hospital for almost 14 months, despite many obstructions from the warring parties, adding that was no longer possible because of recent events. 

“The situation in the Turkish Hospital, located in an RSF-controlled area, has become untenable. Multiple violent incidents have taken place inside and outside the premises over the past 12 months, and the lives of our staff have been repeatedly threatened,” the release quoted Claire Nicolet, head of MSF’s emergency response in Sudan, as saying.

“Most-recently, on the nights of June 17 and 18, dozens of wounded combatants were brought to the Turkish Hospital, and our team was aggressively woken up as Kalashnikovs were fired into their bedrooms. This type of violence against our staff is unacceptable.

“Hospitals and health facilities should be protected and respected by the warring parties as sanctuaries for the sick and wounded where health workers can safely deliver medical care. They cannot have their lives put at-risk as they try to save the lives of other people,” she was further quoted.

 The press statement disclosed that over the past year, MSF staff at the Turkish Hospital had been frequently harassed both inside the facility and on the streets. Many, it added, had been threatened with arrest.

“Indeed, at the start of June, one MSF employee was arrested inside the hospital by two armed men, taken to an unknown location, and severely beaten.”

 According to the press release, the Turkish Hospital will remain open, but surgery will no longer be possible without the presence of the MSF staff who have been evacuated and the future of the facility remains is uncertain.

 The Bashair Teaching Hospital in Khartoum, also supported by MSF, has faced multiple armed incursions over the past few months as well. Between October 2023 and January 2024, the medical agency was forced to suspend operations in the facility.

The war in Sudan broke out on April 15, 2023, occasioned by a power struggle between the two main factions of the military regime. On one side are the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), who remain broadly loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto ruler. The second faction are the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a collection of militia, commanded by former warlord Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti.