South Sudan: MSF's response to the crisis
South Sudan, despite securing independence, has descended to infighting between two military and political factions. Ten thousand people are feared to have been killed in the conflict, with nearly half a million displaced. MSF has been providing emergency medical aid on top of its existing missions.
- As soon as fighting began in December 2013, mobile MSF teams were able to treat victims of the violence. MSF has various projects in the country, ranging from malaria treatment to access to basic healthcare. At first the conflict was situated in the capital, Juba.
- The anti-government forces fled the capital, Juba and made their way north towards the oil fields near South Sudan's border with Sudan, capturing the strategic town of Bor along the way. The humanitarian need at this time exploded, with tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes by the violence.
- In January violence continued to spread, with MSF's facilities in Bentiu looted forcing thousands of displaced people to seek help in Leer.
- One week later, MSF faced a series of attacks on its project in Malakal, in Upper Nile region. “Armed men entered the MSF compound in Malakal twice yesterday, where they looted and physically threatened the team,” said Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF’s general director.
- After a week MSF returned to some of their projects in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei regions.
- On Friday 31st January continuing insecurity in Unity state forced 240 staff and thousands of patients to flee Leer. “Despite incredibly challenging circumstances, MSF local staff continued running the hospital in Leer for as long as they could,” says Raphael Gorgeu, MSF Head of Mission.
“In the last six weeks in South Sudan, our staff have worked in extreme conditions – we’ve been forced to evacuate multiple times, our facilities have been looted and our teams have operated in areas of active conflict,” adds Raphael.
“Leer Hospital was the only fully functioning hospital in southern Unity State and now that it is no longer safe to work in this medical facility, more than 270,000 people have no access to healthcare.”
- Since the beginning of the crisis, tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in southern Unity State. This includes the more than 10,000 displaced from the fighting in Bentiu who had gathered in Leer and have now been displaced for a second time.
- The escalation of violence in the region has been huge, with over 850,000 people displaced and in need of fundamental support such as shelter and water. MSF operations manager Chris Lockyear said: "The forthcoming rainy season is a big worry with the hunger gap and extreme level of displacement. The scale is huge, even with our capacity and long experience working in the region, we are concerned for the people we cannot yet reach."
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