Sudan war: An aid worker’s tale of survival

Wednesday June 07 2023
bashair hospital

Patients arriving at Bashair Hospital as it is the only accessible hospital in southern Khartoum, Sudan. With the presence of the MSF team, the hospital is able support most of the critical cases. PHOTO | MSF


In El Geneina Teaching Hospital, MSF managed the paediatric and nutrition inpatient departments, infection prevention control measures, and water and sanitation services. Over the years, we witnessed a steady stream of patients coming not just from El Geneina city and the nearest camps for displaced families, but from all over West Darfur.

Movement in the city is currently limited to proximity around one's house, due to the risk of random shootings, snipers, and carjackings. Access to basic necessities like water is burdened with danger, and the task of retrieving bodies from the streets has become impossible.

During the first days of the fighting, the Red Crescent was able to collect deceased bodies from the streets. However, as the situation worsened, it became impossible to continue this, leaving the bodies uncollected.

Five days ago, access was finally gained but by that point, the bodies had decomposed to the extent that they couldn't be removed. Now, the best that can be done is to gather the bodies in a single location.

Read: Almost 200 dead in Sudan battles: UN

This situation is unbearable and requires urgent intervention. The negotiations between community leaders and all warring parties must be ensured to bring an end to this horrific situation. Most NGOs have left, but in order to facilitate humanitarian operations those who have managed to remain in different parts of Sudan, including our teams, are committed to providing much-needed healthcare to the people, sparing civilian lives, and ensuring the safety of medical personnel and health facilities are an absolute humanitarian imperative.


Despite the circumstances, my stay in Chad was brief as I needed to return to my family in El Geneina. During this short mission in Chad, one of my major tasks was to facilitate compensating the daily workers who have done a good job in trying to protect MSF premises. Thankfully, one of our offices and warehouses remains untouched, and people in the community, recognising our support, and have also helped prevent looting. 

Nevertheless, the situation remains dire, and urgent action is necessary to ensure the safety of El Geneina's people and health workers.”

The author is the MSF Logistics supervisor in El Geneina, Sudan