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UN horrified by weekend RSF attack on Al-Fasher hospital

A crowded hospital in Al-Fasher. (Credit: MSF)
A crowded hospital in Al-Fasher. (Credit: MSF)

The spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday said the UN is perturbed by the weekend’s wanton attack by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on a hospital in El-Fasher in Sudan’s North Darfur State.

According to Stéphane Dujarric, who was giving a media briefing in New York, RSF fighters stormed, opened fire, and pillaged the Southern Hospital in Al-Fasher on Saturday.  

“On the situation in Sudan, I want to express our shock and our horror regarding the attack on the South Hospital in Al Fasher on Saturday. Our friends from the Médecins Sans Frontières reported that members of the Rapid Support Forces stormed the facility, opened fire, and looted the hospital. This included stealing an MSF ambulance,” he said. “The United Nations has been unable at this point to verify the number of casualties following this assault. At the time of the attack, there were 10 patients and a reduced medical team at the hospital, as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Ministry of Health teams had started transferring patients and medical services to other facilities earlier in the week due to the increase in fighting.”

Dujarric added: “MSF said that between 25 May and 3 June, mortar shells and bullets directly hit South Hospital three times, killing two people and wounding 14 patients and caretakers.”

He said South Hospital remains closed following the attack and that the UN’s humanitarian colleagues note that it was one of only two facilities in Al Fasher that could perform any kind of surgery.

“It also served as the main referral hospital for treating war-wounded in the city, as the only facility equipped to manage mass casualties.  Between 10 May and 6 June, more than 1,300 people had sought some treatment at South Hospital for casualties,” the spokesman stated. “The World Health Organization (WHO) in Sudan is also shocked by the news of another attack on a health facility, this one in Wad Al-Nura in Aj Jazirah State. That attack led to the death of a nurse while on duty and attending to patients.”

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) underscores that under international humanitarian law, medical facilities, personnel, and equipment must be protected against attacks, looting, and other forms of violence. The wounded and sick must also be protected and receive the care they need.

“There is also a tweet to that effect on the attack on Al Fasher from our Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, who has also expressed his shock at the attack,” Dujarric said. “On the political side, the Personal Envoy, Mr. Ramtane Lamamra is continuing his engagement to advance peace efforts, including directly engaging with the Parties to urge them to de-escalate tensions, particularly around El Fasher.”