Two children killed as bomb falls near hospital in El Fasher

Two children were killed after a bomb fell near a paediatric hospital in the North Darfur State capital on Saturday, the medical charity MSF has said.

Two children were killed after a bomb fell near a paediatric hospital in the North Darfur State capital on Saturday, the medical charity MSF has said.

Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) recently intensified in the battle for control of El Fasher city.  The RSF has been besieging the city since the middle of last month and threatening a major attack.

El Fasher is the capital of North Darfur State, the centre of the western region of Darfur, and the only city that has not fallen into the hands of the RSF.

In a brief statement sent to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, MSF said an airstrike carried out by the SAF landed 50 metres from Babiker Nahar Paediatric Hospital, which is supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in El Fasher.

“This led to the collapse of the roof above the intensive care unit (ICU) and the death of two children who remained receiving treatment there, as well as the death of at least one caregiver,” the charity said.

The hospital was one of the few specialising in the treatment of sick children that had managed to remain operational since the start of the war. It received referrals from across the Darfur region because so many others had been forced to close. Now, one additional health facility has been put out of action.  

 MSF said Saturday’s incident came after heavy fighting on Friday, when 160 wounded people – including 31 women and 19 children – arrived at the MSF-supported South Hospital in El Fasher.  It added that 25 of these wounded were in a terminal condition upon arrival and passed away.  

 The medical charity further said Friday’s fighting took place close to Babiker Nahar, and led to almost all patients fleeing in search of safety – many arrived at South Hospital. Of the 115 children receiving treatment in Babiker Nahar, 10 remained on Saturday when the bomb dropped – including the two children who were killed.

 MSF called upon all warring parties to protect civilians and ensure the protection of health structures, as they are obligated to do under International Humanitarian Law, and the Jeddah declaration – signed exactly one year ago on the day that the hospital was damaged and the children and caregiver were killed.  

 Michel-Olivier Lacharité, head of MSF’s emergency operations, said: “Two children who were receiving treatment in our intensive care unit at the paediatric hospital, as well as one caregiver, have been killed as a result of collateral damage following an airstrike by the Sudanese Armed Forces. 115 children were receiving treatment in this hospital – now no one is. Already, there was far too little health care available in Sudan due to the conflict.”

Lacharité added, “The 115 children in the hospital were receiving treatment for conditions such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition. Now, many are receiving no treatment at all. The children who were killed were in critical condition in our ICU, but their lives could have been saved. This must not happen again. We remind the warring parties with the utmost gravity that hospitals and health facilities must not be targeted, or become collateral damage in a conflict. We also urge them to ensure that they protect civilians – something they completely failed to do this weekend. As well as the two children and the care giver, 25 people wounded in the fighting who arrived at South Hospital on Friday were in a terminal condition and it was not possible to save their lives.”