South Sudan: Fleeing civilians cut off from emergency healthcare in Wau Shilluk

Juba - The recent surge in fighting in and around the towns of Wau Shilluk and Malakal (Greater Upper Nile region), has left many of those forced to flee cut off from healthcare. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling on all those fighting to ensure that the right of civilians to access emergency healthcare, clean water and food is guaranteed, and that medical facilities, staff and transport are not targeted.

Most of Wau Shilluk's population (approx 20,500 people) fled for the bush on 25 January when opposing forces started an exchange of artillery fire across the Nile. Three days later the town's market was hit by mortar fire and the rest of the town's population evacuated.

Medical facilities are also at risk. On 26 January, opposing sides again initiated an exchange of artillery fire. One shell landed dangerously close to the MSF clinic in Malakal town, which is located on the opposite side of the Nile from Wau Shilluk.

"What really concerns us is the inability of the displaced people to reach emergency healthcare, safe drinking water, food and shelter", says Marcus Bachmann, MSF's head of mission in South Sudan. "We call on both sides to respect the protected status of medical facilities and to ensure that all displaced people have access to medical care. MSF is closely monitoring the situation and evaluating how best we can provide medical support to the sick and wounded."

MSF maintains medical operations in its hospital in Wau Shilluk, a hospital in the Malakal Protection of Civilians site and a health clinic located in Malakal town which was resupplied. The sick and wounded close to Wau Shilluk are finding it difficult to access our hospital and MSF mobile units face big challenges in reaching the vulnerable communities.