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West Darfur violence leaves 200+ dead – ‘cautious calm’ as hospitals, markets stay closed

April 27 - 2022 EL GENEINA / KEREINIK
El Geneina Teaching Hospital (File photo: Nargiz Koshoibekova / MSF)
El Geneina Teaching Hospital (File photo: Nargiz Koshoibekova / MSF)

Health facilities, markets, and other institutions remain closed despite a ‘cautious calm’ reported from El Geneina and Kereinik in West Darfur. At least 200 people, including children, have died in several days of violence, widely attributed to attacks by Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have grown out of the ‘janjaweed’ herding militiamen that carried out a genocide against non-Arab African Darfuri farmers under the regime of ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir.

The RSF, which are commanded by Deputy Chair of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, have been accused of exploiting, inflaming, and blaming ‘inter-tribal conflicts’.

Reports from El Geneina suggests that the shooting stopped on Tuesday, and there has been a limited return to movement on the roads.

Sultan Saad Badruddin, Sultan of Dar Masalit, told the Sudan Today programme on Radio Dabanga, that El Geneina witnessed a bloody day on Monday. He said that the total number of casualties is still being assessed, and that the violent events of the past days led to complete paralysis in the city.

Shops, government institutions, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies are still closed, however some vegetable stores opened their doors with the movement of a limited number of carts.

He said that Kerending camp for the displaced in El Geneina was looted on Tuesday morning by a large number of women, after the displaced residents fled to shelters for protection. He said that the regular forces did not intervene to prevent the theft of the property of the displaced, and called on the government to play its role in protecting the citizens.

Sultan Badruddin said that they were able to airlift 25 of the critically injured to Khartoum through El Geneina airport, while more than 70 wounded remain at Kereinik Hospital “in tragic conditions with the lack of the simplest aids”. He lamented that the wounded were ambushed three times while being transported by cart from Kereinik to El Geneina, but they managed to escape.

He described the conditions of the displaced in Kereinik as tragic, pointing out that they live in the open without food or clothing, after losing all of their food stocks, shelter, and property.

MSF: Medical personnel slain

International medical relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says that three people, including two medical workers were killed, when a hospital the organisation supports in Kereinik was attacked at the weekend. The hospital´s pharmacy was also looted.

In a statement, Bakri Abubakr, MSF Operations Manager for Sudan, says: ¨On Sunday 24 April, El Geneina Teaching Hospital, in which MSF staff were working, experienced a violent intrusion, with shooting taking place inside the facility, including the ER. One hospital staff member was killed, and health workers, including those from MSF, were evacuated.

“We are shocked by these attacks and send our sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed. We condemn these deadly intrusions in the strongest possible terms. In conflict, medical structures and staff are protected – this has to be respected by all parties to any conflict at all times.

“As a result of the ongoing violence and insecurity in the different parts of West Darfur, including these deadly attacks on two hospitals, MSF teams have not been able to reach the health facilities we support nor conduct mobile clinic activities in El Geneina and we cannot return to Kereinik. We are incredibly worried about the impact this will have on people, who have faced waves of violence, preventing them from seeking the medical care they need, and leaving them in dire need of assistance even prior to this attack.

“Our teams are closely following the security situation to ensure that we can start working to provide much needed medical care and humanitarian assistance as soon as it is safe to do so,” Abubakr concludes.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors confirmed that El Geneina Hospital had been completely evacuated of patients, health staff, and escorts for the first time in the city’s history. The office also confirmed in a statement that all health institutions are still closed due to the lack of security. He pointed out that critical cases, such as deliveries and others, are transferred between private and public hospitals without finding medical care, as fears increase about the high number of dead and injured.

The doctors’ committee appealed to humanitarian and human rights organisations to intervene urgently, and to hold the ruling military junta responsible for the deadly events of the last days.

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