MIL-OSI New Zealand: Sudan Staff Account: “The girl’s horrendous experience reminded me of my own experience when an explosive device fell into our compound”

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Source: Save The Children

A Save the Children clinic in Al Gezira State, Sudan, providing vital healthcare for children and their families.Mosaab Hassouna / Save the Childre

Dr Ali*, 42, has been working with Save the Children in North Darfur as a health worker for six years. He has been living with his family in El Fasher since the war broke out in Sudan’s capital Khartoum in April 2023. On 25 May 2023, he was forced to evacuate his family to safety after an explosive device fell into their house, injuring five of his family members. He speaks about how the conflict is impacting people in North Darfur.

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“I’ve been working and volunteering as a doctor in El Fasher in Sudan for the last six months, working nights, during weekends and holidays.

As a father, seeing mothers clutching onto their injured children, breaks my heart. Last month, I treated a six-year-old girl after an explosive device fell into her house and the shells landed on her small tummy. She was in so much pain and her parents were in deep agony. My colleague doctors and I managed to perform an emergency operation to remove the shells and after one week in the ward, she had recovered enough to be discharged.

The girl’s horrendous experience reminded me of my own experience when an explosive device fell into our compound, putting the lives of my close relatives and children at risk. Sadly, across El Fasher such incidents are happening daily, flooding hospitals with injured patients many of them children.

I thought the conflict would not last long. I hoped things would return to normal and that my family and I would be safe. Then one evening, barely a month into the conflict, an explosive device fell into our house during one of the battles and injured five of my family members, including my father, mother, sisters, and a cousin. I was horrified, sad and angry.

Luckily, I managed to find treatment for my injured family members and begun working on a plan to get them out of the country. They are now in a safe location outside the country. The whole experience was extremely traumatizing for me and my family and I am glad I received support from Save the Children’s psychologist, which has helped me overcome the trauma and I now in a state where I can continue with my work and help other people including children fleeing the conflict in Sudan.

My work as a health worker at Save the Children involves implementing and managing health programmes aimed at providing primary healthcare services to the most vulnerable families and children. We run a mobile health clinic for internally displaced people within El Fasher and support seven health facilities with free medicine, health and nutrition services.

However, extreme fighting in the city for the last two months has seen hospitals and health facilities shut down one after the other, due to lack of medical supplies, departure of health care workers, artillery shelling and extensive looting of ambulances and medical supplies including from maternity and pediatric hospitals.

As the fighting escalates, movement in the city has become difficult and dangerous, with roads cut off. Additionally, government entities and banks have been shut down and evening curfews have been introduced, leaving El Fasher isolated.  People are trying to flee to safe areas as they fear being arrested, harassed, and robbed.

Tawila, one of the areas where Save the Children has been providing humanitarian aid, has been particularly affected by the fighting, with several schools and health facilities looted and houses burnt to the ground. This has forced many families out of their homes and into camps for displaced people.

El Fasher is a vital hub for humanitarian operations throughout Darfur, central to supply routes, and further escalation in violence will have catastrophic consequences for families in dire need of food, water and health services. We need peace in El Fasher, and Sudan.”

*name has been changed to protect anonymity 

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