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MSF: Sudan's Health Facilities 'At Point of Collapse'


Sudanese refugees who have fled the violence in their country queue to receive food supplements from World Food Programme (WFP) near the border between Sudan and Chad in Adre, Chad April 26, 2023.

WASHINGTON — Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, said it is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous for health workers to treat people injured in Sudan’s ongoing conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and the country’s main paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces.

Kate Nolan, MSF's deputy director of operations in Kenya, told VOA after more than 10 days of deadly clashes in the country’s urban centers, Sudan’s already-battered health facilities are now "at the point of collapse."

"We have been in touch with Sudanese medical teams in Khartoum and other parts of the country, where wounded patients are being received. The situation in Khartoum and other cities is extremely precarious and the hospitals are extremely overstretched," Nolan said, speaking from Nairobi.

In the capital Khartoum, 61% of the health care facilities are closed, and only 16% are operating as normal since fighting broke out, according to the World Health Organization. More than 450 people have been killed and thousands more have been injured.

Addressing a press conference in Geneva Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed a 72-hour cease-fire in the country, but warned of "many more deaths due to outbreaks, lack of access to food and water and disruptions to essential health services, including immunization."

WHO said it is also assessing a public health threat after fighters seized a laboratory holding samples of deadly diseases, including polio and measles. The organization said it is seeking more information and conducting a risk assessment.

Asked if MSF will maintain a presence in Sudan, Nolan said the aid group hopes to stay in the country.

"We remain committed to providing much-need vital health care to people in Sudan, especially during moments like these. But to do so, we need to be able to ensure the security of our staff and our patients," she said.

Nolan said MSF is continuing to call on all parties involved in the conflict "to avoid civilian areas and to spare civilian lives," and ensure the safety of medical personnel, people seeking health care and "facilitate the movement of all of those who are delivering vital humanitarian assistance in Sudan."

The nationwide 72-hour cease-fire in Sudan is set to end Thursday, but a regional African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has proposed an extension on the truce. International leaders have continued to call for a permanent end to hostilities.

Some information in the report came from Reuters.