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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Sarah Johnson

MSF suspends surgery at Khartoum hospital after Sudanese military blocks supplies

Two surgeons in gowns and masks perform an operation on a patient's leg
Members of MSF’s surgical team extract a bullet from a patient’s leg at Bashair teaching hospital in Khartoum. Photograph: Ala Kheir/MSF

The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières has suspended life-saving surgery at a hospital in Khartoum after the Sudanese military blocked medical supplies from entering the city.

MSF said it had been refused permission to transport supplies from warehouses in Wad Madani, in Al Jazirah state, to hospitals in the south of the capital since 8 September. The charity said on Thursday that medication and materials at Bashair teaching hospital have now run out and the team could no longer perform trauma surgery or caesarean sections.

It said it was withdrawing its surgical team.

Sudan was plunged into a violent crisis in April after fighting broke out between the Sudanese armed forces, led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces loyal to his rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – known as Hemedti.

“It is devastating to have to stop supporting life-saving surgical care at Bashair hospital,” said Shazeer Majeed, MSF surgical referent. “The needs are huge. Blocking the medication and materials needed to perform surgery deprives people of the healthcare they so desperately need.”

Majeed said that since mid-May, the hospital’s emergency room had received nearly 5,000 patients and MSF’s team has performed more than 3,000 surgical procedures.

Flames and black smoke above trees
A fire at the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company tower in Khartoum last month, during intense fighting in the capital. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Michiel Hofman, MSF operations coordinator for Sudan, said that after weeks of disruption and discussions, on 1 October, the military authorities in Wad Madani, about 85 miles from Khartoum, informed the charity they would no longer allow the transportation of any surgical supplies to hospitals in the south of the capital.

“Despite repeated engagements with the health authorities since, these critical supplies remain blocked and stocks in the hospital are now depleted. We have no choice but to suspend our support to surgical activities at Bashair teaching hospital and temporarily withdraw our surgical team,” he said. “We cannot ask our medical teams to stay when they can no longer provide life-saving care as they are medically obliged to do.”

The charity said it will continue to support maternal, emergency and outpatient care.

MSF provides medical support at three other hospitals in Khartoum and its neighbouring city, Omdurman. One of them, the Turkish hospital, also in the south of Khartoum, is expected to run out of surgical supplies within two weeks.

The news comes as humanitarian officials say the widening conflict in Sudan has left them trying to “plan for the apocalypse” as aid supply lines are disrupted and more people are displaced internally and across the country’s borders.

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