El Geneina - update: MSF calls for civilians to be spared as number of wounded in Adré nears 900.

Now, as almost 900 wounded and 15,000 Sudanese refugees have reached Adré, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are hearing consistent reports of people being shot at and killed as they try to leave the city. MSF urges all armed groups in and around El Geneina to spare the civilian population and to let people leave safely.

"On Wednesday night, 14 June 2023, the governor of West Darfur was killed. At this moment we knew that the situation would get even worse, and it was a collective decision of the people of El Geneina to leave”, explained Nour, a 25-year-old from El Geneina who arrived at Adré hospital on Thursday, June 15. “Most of them fled on foot heading northeast of El Geneina but many of them were killed on this route. I can’t tell how many, but I saw many dead and wounded people lying on the ground. The only solution was to head west and people started walking to Adré in Chad, but the journey was full of dangers as we were exposed and targeted. On Thursday at 11am while I was walking near a town called Shukri, an armed man shot me in the face but thank God I survived to be treated here in Adré hospital.”

Being shot at is not the only danger on the road for people desperate to flee El Geneina, as the testimony from Salma*, 18 years old from El Geneina, demonstrates. On Thursday, June 15, around noon, Salma and her two sisters were fleeing the chaos in El Geneina. Their escape was abruptly halted when six armed men in a bus wrenched Soadd* away from her terrified sisters and raped her.  “They kept her for some time inside the bus, after they finished with her, they threw her out of the bus, and they left. My sister is only 15 years old” said Salma.

Soadd is currently fighting for her life in Adré hospital, where she is receiving critical medical support. The three sisters are facing not only the trauma of violence but also the anguish of being separated from their parents in this time of crisis. They have lost contact; their mother is in Nyala, and there is uncertainty regarding the whereabouts of their father.

“The level of violence has been escalating, and people have felt and continue to feel exposed at any given moment to the risk of being targeted or exposed to violence” said Konstantinos Psykakos, MSF’s outgoing project coordinator who was in Adré, near the border with El Geneina city for the past two months, waiting for access to the city which was not facilitated.

Eyewitness accounts from the patients who have arrived in Adré hospital in Chad told our teams about mass killings, displacement, looting, women escaping alone with children, and dead bodies in the streets.

Recalling the hardship of surviving in El Geneina over the past few weeks, Nour explained that “no one was allowed to go in or out. We didn’t have clean water to drink, as the armed groups destroyed it. People tried to get clean water from some wadis or natural running water, but snipers were shooting at them. They came to the neighbourhoods on pickups and motorbikes, fully armed with machine guns and aircraft guns mounted on their pickups, they were killing anyone they saw then looting houses then burning the neighbourhood.”

Salima, 27 years-old from El Geneina, escaped alone with her 5 daughters and 2 boys after she was shot in the right leg causing multiple fractures while walking in the street near her house. .“This happened two days ago on Wednesday 14 June 2023, but yesterday a helpful man carried me and my kids in his pickup truck to Adré in Chad.“I don’t want to go back home because the unthinkable is happening, men and boys are being killed, and sometimes the armed men let women flee and sometimes not.” During this chaos, Salima lost contact with her husband, she has no news at all about his whereabouts.

In addition to calling on all parties to spare civilians and their vital infrastructure, MSF is making an urgent call for humanitarian teams to be able to access the city to provide support.

* Names have been changed

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