Last civilian hospital in besieged city of Sudan closed


Doctors at one of the last functioning hospitals in the besieged Sudanese town of el-Fasher say they have been forced to close the facility after it came under attack.

The hospital is backed by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has described it as the only hospital in el-Fasher where injured civilians can receive treatment.

For days there were reports that shells had hit the city’s South Hospital, causing injuries and deaths.

But now eyewitnesses say fighters from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have entered the facility.

On Saturday they drove to the hospital and opened fire: looting drugs and medical equipment, stealing an ambulance and attacking staff.

“Due to the chaos, our team was unable to verify whether there were any deaths or injuries.” The medical charity’s interim head of mission in Sudan, Maximilien Kowalski, told BBC Newsday.

“The hospital is very close to the front line, so it will remain closed for the time being.”

Fuel, electricity and water supplies are not yet working at a nearby dilapidated hospital where Doctors Without Borders is having to move their el-Fasher operations, Kowalski says, leaving injured civilians with nowhere to go for at least a week.

Saturday’s attack is yet another sign that there are no rules in Sudan’s civil war.

The Sudanese National Army, which has been fighting the RSF for the past year, has also been accused of widespread abuses.

But in this case, the RSF forced a hospital where civilians were being treated to close.

The paramilitary force is widely reported to be backed by the United Arab Emirates; officials there deny this.

More than 15,000 people are estimated to have been killed across the country since the conflict began in April 2023.

The RSF took control of Gezira state, south of the capital Khartoum, in December and is accused of committing numerous abuses against civilians there – which it denies.

Last week, at least 150 people, including 35 children, were massacred by suspected RSF forces in the village of Wad al-Nourah in Gezira state.

In Darfur, rights groups have said the RSF is using rape as a weapon of war and is targeting dark-skinned Masalit people and other non-Arab groups in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Several rounds of peace talks have failed to end the war, which began when the two generals leading the army and the RSF fell out respectively.

UN agencies say the fighting has caused the world’s worst displacement crisis and millions of people are facing a hunger catastrophe as a result.

More BBC stories about Sudan’s civil war:

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(Getty Images/BBC)

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