On Wednesday 25 October, some of the Sudanese staff at EMERGENCY’s Paediatric Centre in Nyala, South Darfur, were arrested by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Due to communication difficulties that have persisted since the beginning of the war, EMERGENCY became aware of the arrest from a video circulating on social media and was unable to contact the rest of its staff in Nyala, and was therefore also unable to confirm the number of people arrested or their identities.
Almost a week later, the Sudanese staff have been released with apologies from the RSF. They are shaken, but all are well. The Paediatric Centre, however, has been looted. The premises and equipment have been damaged but above all the situation has risked the safety and security of our Sudanese staff, who have been running the hospital autonomously for the last two months in order to guarantee the necessary care for children, mothers and cardiac patients in Nyala and neighbouring areas.
Since the outbreak of war on 15 April, the Centre has continued its work to ensure essential care for a population heavily affected by the conflict. For the past three weeks, it had remained open with great difficulty due to escalating fighting.
Our Sudanese colleagues were the first to request that the Paediatric Centre remain open to ensure the continuity of health activities. They see first-hand the impact of EMERGENCY’s work on their communities every day, and their commitment has never wavered. However, we will not be able to reopen the hospital without assurances of the safety of our staff, our patients, and the ability to work autonomously.
In Khartoum, too, the management of health facilities is becoming increasingly difficult. The city is unrecognisable, torn apart by over six months of continuous fighting. Most of the city’s hospitals have closed because they are unfit for use or they are no longer able to guarantee care due to the lack of medicines and necessary equipment.
EMERGENCY is continuing its work in Khartoum with international staff at the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery and the Centre for Emergency and Trauma Surgery, where there is a shortage of drugs, consumables, and fuel for the generators. There is a lack of authorisations for the transportation of medical supplies, and there is also a shortage of the necessary personnel: many Sudanese colleagues have had to leave the country because of the escalating fighting, and visas for international staff arrive very slowly; they have been waiting for months to enter the country and relieve colleagues who have been managing our activities since the beginning of the conflict.
EMERGENCY demands respect for patients, staff and health facilities so that we are able to continue our work guaranteeing the Sudanese population the right to free, high-quality care, even in war.