South Sudan: Access to essential healthcare dramatically reduced due to increased violence

Juba - MSF is deeply concerned by the ongoing inability to access healthcare and humanitarian assistance for tens of thousands of people displaced across the country. Warring parties must ensure immediate access for populations, particularly in certain affected areas around Leer, Wau and the Equatorias.

MSF today stated that thousands of people in desperate need are unable to access medical and humanitarian assistance due to ongoing fighting. 

While MSF teams continue to treat 60,000 patients per month across the country, ongoing insecurity is causing a significant decline in access to healthcare for tens of thousands more people who are in dire need.

In recent weeks, fighting around Wau, Leer and parts of the Equatorias has affected the ability of thousands of people to access much-needed medical and humanitarian assistance. For many, the ongoing violence and risk of attack means that they are often too afraid to seek help. In addition, the recent surge in fighting has led a number of NGOs to reduce their staff and projects or even evacuate completely, further limiting the support available to these populations.

After 35 years in South Sudan, MSF has observed a deterioration of respect for international humanitarian law and the protections it affords the population, medical facilities and MSF's freedom to operate unhindered and untargeted. Two MSF clinics were destroyed during the fighting in Greater Upper Nile region four weeks ago, with the violence forcing the population to flee and leaving the area without any access to a medical clinic or hospital.

Given people's need for access to healthcare and humanitarian support, all parties must ensure the free movement of civilians and access for humanitarian organisations to those affected. At present, the levels of access to humanitarian assistance, including healthcare, food, water and shelter, is near non-existent in some of the worst-affected areas.

Tens of thousands of displaced people in Wau, Leer and the Equatorias are suffering largely out of sight as we and other humanitarian actors are unable to reach them. The impact that this is having on the population is further exacerbated by increased levels of disease, including malaria.

MSF's humanitarian response in South Sudan is one of the organisation's largest in the world. As such, MSF remains strongly committed to the South Sudanese people, its partnership with the health authorities and continuing to provide medical and humanitarian support where it is needed most.

Our priority today is to demand that those involved in the fighting allow MSF and other NGOs access so that we can determine the needs and provide the most appropriate response.

MSF employs more than 3,000 South Sudanese staff and more than 300 international staff to respond to a wide range of medical emergencies and provide free and high quality healthcare to people in need in all regions of South Sudan across 18 permanent and several project locations.

MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare in nearly 70 countries around the world. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality.