WORLD

Sudan hospitals struggle with casualties, damage in fighting

Apr 17, 2023, 12:18 PM

This satellite photo by Planet Labs PBC shows fires burning near a hospital in Khartoum, Sudan, Sun...

This satellite photo by Planet Labs PBC shows fires burning near a hospital in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday April 16, 2023. The Sudanese military and a powerful paramilitary group are battling for control of the chaos-stricken nation for a second day. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Planet Labs PBC via AP)

CAIRO (AP) — At the Khartoum Teaching Hospital, people wounded during street battles flowed into the wards. Supplies were running low, with doctors, nurses, patients and their relatives trapped inside for days as the Sudanese capital turned into a war zone.

Then early Monday, one of the wards was heavily damaged by shelling.

“We are running out of everything,” Dr. Amin Saad told The Associated Press. “We are working with the least possible capabilities. … We’re all exhausted, but there is a shortage of physicians.”

Not long afterward, the hospital shut down completely — with staff, patients and relatives stuck inside as clashes raged throughout the neighborhood. It was one of at least six hospitals shuttered either because they were damaged in fighting, were inaccessible because of clashes or had run out of fuel, according to the Doctors’ Syndicate.

Khartoum’s hospitals have been thrown into chaos by the explosion of violence between Sudan’s two top generals. People have been unable to leave their homes since Saturday as the two sides’ engaged in gun battles and bombarded each other with artillery and airstrikes. More than 180 people have been killed and over 1,800 wounded since the fighting erupted, U.N. envoy Volker Perthes said.

There are some 20 hospitals in the capital and the neighboring city of Omdurman. Those that still managed to operate were understaffed and overwhelmed, running low on supplies and struggling with power or water cuts, doctors said.

The sudden outbreak of fighting caught everyone off guard, trapping doctors and nurses inside hospitals, and preventing other staff from reaching the facilities.

“I tried multiple times the past two days but was forced to return (home) because of the battles,” said Dr. Sara Mohi, who has been unable to get to the hospital where she works in central Khartoum.

The situation is “extremely dire,” said Atiya Abdulla Atiya of the Doctors’ Syndicate.

The World Health Organization said many hospitals in Khartoum reported shortages of “blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids, medical supplies and other life-saving commodities.”

Along with the Khartoum Teaching Hospital, the Al-Shaab Teaching Hospital shut down Monday after a ward was struck in fighting, said the general manager, Al Nameir Gibril Ibrahim.

Online video Monday showed staff evacuating patients from the Al-Shaheed Salma kidney treatment clinic amid clashes. With gunfire ringing out, staffers ducked and rushed a gurney with a patient across the street. Another facility, the Police Hospital, was evacuated on Sunday, the syndicate said.

Dr. Ossama al-Shazly, head of the International Hospital in Khartoum’s northern Bahri district, took to social media late Sunday to appeal for fuel to keep generators running after power was cut to the neighborhood.

“The situation is very critical. We want people to provide fuel,” he said, adding that many patients needed surgeries and others were in intensive care units, with no place to evacuate them to.

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Sudan hospitals struggle with casualties, damage in fighting