Sudan: Paramilitary Forces Storm and Loot North Darfur’s Main Hospital

Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a Sudanese paramilitary group, attacked the main hospital in El Fasher, North Darfur, on Saturday, forcing the suspension of all medical activities at the facility. The attack, reported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), involved RSF soldiers storming the hospital, opening fire, and looting vital medical supplies, including an MSF ambulance.

The South Hospital, a joint operation between MSF and the Ministry of Health, was the only facility in the region equipped to handle mass casualties and served as the primary referral hospital for treating war-wounded patients. It was also one of only two hospitals in El Fasher with surgical capacity. As a result of the attack, patients are being transferred to Paediatric and Saudi hospitals, which are unprepared for the sudden influx of patients.

MSF reported that most patients and the remaining medical team, including all MSF staff, managed to escape the violence. However, due to the chaos, they cannot confirm if there were any casualties. The hospital had already been targeted multiple times in the preceding weeks, resulting in two deaths and 14 injuries among patients and caretakers.

Michel Lacharite, MSF’s Head of Emergencies, condemned the attack, stating that warring parties must halt attacks on medical care, as hospitals are closing and the remaining facilities are unable to handle mass casualties. The European Union also expressed its outrage at the assault, reminding the RSF to show restraint and respect International Humanitarian Law.

The attack on the hospital comes amid an ongoing civil war between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), which began in April 2023. The United Nations has reported that El Fasher hosts around 1.8 million people who are at “imminent risk of famine,” and the fighting has displaced nearly 130,000 people in April and May alone.