South Sudan: MSF emergency response to intense fighting in Juba

Q. Sakamaki

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started its response for the wounded and displaced victims of violence in Juba, South Sudan, following  intense fighting from the evening of 15 December to the morning of 18 December in the capital.

“We are extremely concerned for people who are caught in the conflict,” says Michael White, MSF head of mission in South Sudan. “MSF has worked in South Sudan for thirty years, and we are activating our emergency response capacity now that people are in clear need.”

Drugs and medical supplies

On 18 December an MSF team provided drugs and medical supplies including tetanus vaccines, syringes, injectable antibiotics, wound-dressing material, a dedicated kit for treating 50 wounded patients and a supply of body bags in case of mortalities to the Juba Teaching Hospital. They also set up a tented ward so the hospital staff can expand their capacity from the overcrowded wards.

Other MSF teams have been assessing the situation for displaced people in several locations around the city, including a UN compound near the airport and a cathedral, where people have fled to seek safety from areas of intense fighting. There are tens of thousands of people displaced in Juba, so the priority for the coming 24 hours is to identify where the needs are greatest, and then scale up MSF’s response accordingly.

Intense fighting

“We could hear from the sound of the fighting around the town that it was very intense,” says Forbes Sharpe, MSF emergency coordinator in Juba. “Today has been calmer, but the tension and fear in the streets of Juba is palpable. The situation here is certainly serious, and our top priority is to get a better picture as soon as possible of where there is the greatest need for MSF medical assistance. We have already started donating medical supplies and we have emergency-trained teams here ready to start providing hands-on medical or logistical assistance within hours.”