Fighting hinders humanitarian assistance
8 July 1998
Nairobi - Over 700 children are without life-saving supplementary and therapeutic food as MSF and other humanitarian agencies evacuated Western Upper Nile on 29 June, following fighting in the region. According to MSF field volunteers, insecurity is seriously hampering the delivery of urgently needed food assistance in southern Sudan. Peace is essential if humanitarian assistance is to prevent more starvation. Reports from Leer town indicate that a number of buildings have been burned to the ground and humanitarian aid compounds, including that of MSF, have been looted. At the time of evacuation, a total of 751 children had been admitted into MSF's feeding centre since 1 June. The fighting has also brought MSF's kala azar, TB, and mobile clinic programmes to a halt. "We are extremely concerned that the already precarious health and nutrition status of people in Western Upper Nile will deteriorate further due to such insecurity," said Marilyn McHarg, Head of Mission for MSF. "It is clear that peace in southern Sudan is as important as humanitarian assistance in enabling the population to survive." In Bahr el Ghazal, over the last months MSF has already witnessed the tragic deterioration of the population's health largely due to displacement, insecurity and drought. In this region where MSF runs eight supplementary and therapeutic feeding centres for over 7,000 malnourished children, insecurity has caused the medical teams to evacuate and temporarily suspend the feeding programmes on numerous occasions. Peace is the necessary pre-condition for a sustainable solution to the current level of human suffering in southern Sudan.