The International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of over 130 national nurses’ associations across the world, is calling for an immediate cease-fire in Sudan, where rival military factions are in a power struggle which has so far resulted in the deaths of over 180 people and the injury of 1,800 as well as the destruction of hospitals and the disruption of health care services.
In a call today with ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton, Mowafag Hassan, President of the Sudanese Nurses Organisation (shown here), reported that the situation in Khartoum is extremely dangerous at this time.
“We are currently evacuating all nurses, other health personnel and patients from hospitals which are under attack. There are extremely limited medical supplies, and food and fuel for ambulances is about to run out. The five main hospitals in Khartoum have been destroyed, but there is no access to downtown Khartoum so it is difficult to evacuate patients. Some hospitals are still working but these are far away from the city. Health care is under attack, civilians are under attack and the situation is very dangerous.”
Mr Catton thanked Mr Hassan and the nurses of Sudan for their courage and care, and expressed the solidarity of ICN, all its member association and nurses across the world. They both also reinforced the importance of holding people to account for deliberate attacks against healthcare.
Mr Catton said:
“ICN is calling for an immediate cease-fire, respect for humanitarian laws and the end to the deliberate targeting of health facilities. We condemn unreservedly all attacks on health care workers, whose sole aim is to provide care, treatment and comfort to the sick, injured and dying. We are calling on all governments and other combatants to uphold the international laws that protect health workers. International humanitarian law must not only be respected but applied on the ground to protect nurses and other health workers at the heart of our healthcare systems.
If the international community does not act when international humanitarian laws are so blatantly violated, the risk is that this becomes normalized which is both abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Mr Hassan and Mr Catton expressed their concern that humanitarian laws were not being respected:
“This means that health care is in a real and present danger. There is an urgent need to open up humanitarian corridors to allow access to the provision of medical supplies, and to ensure safe pathways from the airport when that reopens.”
ICN has written a formal letter of support to the Sudanese Nurses Organisation, which is in the process of applying for ICN membership.
ICN’s member associations and others can help provide humanitarian support to SNO and the nurses of Sudan via ICN’s Humanitarian Fund which supports nurses and nursing associations in disaster and conflict areas. ICN’s #NursesforPeace campaign calls for peace, condemns attacks on healthcare, and supports nurses on the frontlines
ICN is a founding member the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition which works to protect health workers, services, and infrastructure, and is closely involved in the Health Care in Danger project, which ultimately aims to make access to healthcare in situations of armed violence more secure.
Download the communique here