A hospital operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was directly targeted in an aerial bombing in Sudan on January 20, forcing the suspension of medical activities, MSF announced today.
The hospital, located in the Nuba Mountains village of Frandala in the South Kordofan region of Sudan, was bombed by the Sudanese Air Force (SAF). Repeated and targeted bombings in the region prevent the safe operation of medical activities, depriving the local population of life saving care.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the bombing of the Frandala hospital,” said Marc Van der Mullen, MSF’s head of mission in Sudan. “With more than 100 patients present, we were very lucky not to have more casualties, because people simply had no time to seek protection. Everyone is shocked and frightened of further attacks.”
Approximately 150 patients and staff were in the hospital during midday operations when an SAF fighter jet dropped a cluster of 13 bombs, of which two landed inside the hospital compound and the others just outside the hospital fence. One MSF staff and one patient were injured, and the property was damaged.
This attack is part of an indiscriminate bombing campaign in South Kordofan, resulting from the ongoing war between the Sudanese authorities based in the capital Khartoum and rebel groups in the Nuba Mountains. The population in South Kordofan suffers regularly from bombing raids, and health facilities have not escaped being targeted.
Medical care under fire once again
The Frandala hospital was previously bombed in June, 2014. That attack took place despite the fact that the authorities in Khartoum were aware of MSF’s presence and activities in the hospital. Several patients were injured and one killed, and there was significant damage to the hospital. At that time, MSF publicly condemned the attack, and demanded respect of the medical facilities.
“Today there can be no doubt that this was a deliberate and targeted bombing on a civilian hospital structure and part of a strategy to terrorize the community,” said Van der Mullen. “MSF calls on Khartoum again to respect the assistance we bring to the population. Despite today’s setback, we will try to find a way to continue to provide care to the population caught in his largely undocumented war”.
MSF is one of the few healthcare providers in South Kordofan. The MSF facility in Frandala, featuring outpatient and inpatient wards, began operating in 2012. Nearly 80,000 consultations have been performed, along with close to 4,000 hospitalizations.