Juba, 20 February 2014 – At least 150 wounded people have been treated by the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) after a new wave of violence hit the town of Malakal, in Upper Nile state, South Sudan, on February 18.
MSF fears that the escalating levels of violence are threatening the security of the population even in the place where most of the displaced people are currently seeking refuge, the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) compound, which hosts over 21,000 people.
Most of the 150 wounded have been treated by MSF together with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) teams in Malakal. The patients were admitted to the medical facility of the UNMISS. They suffered gunshot wounds from the clashes in town as well as injuries as a result of inter-communal fighting in the camp.
Many of the people in town were obliged to seek refuge in the overcrowded UNMISS compound due to the high insecurity in the area. Some of these displaced people reported to our teams cases of the killing and rape of patients and relatives in the only functional hospital in town. This facility, where MSF had been working until February 17, has also been looted. MSF fears that more violence will have devastating consequences on the population.
High levels of violence
Also, in the past two days, more than 55 gunshot wounded patients from fighting in Malakal have been brought for treatment to MSF’s facility in Nasir, Upper Nile state, with many more expected to arrive in the coming days.
“The high levels of violence have disrupted the humanitarian activities launched in Malakal to respond to the crisis,” says Llanos Ortiz, MSF deputy emergency desk manager. “The reigning insecurity is having a direct impact on the lives of the South Sudanese people and is also an obstacle for them to receive impartial medical humanitarian assistance.”
Since the onset of the crisis last December, fighting throughout the country is having serious consequences for the population, stricken not only by violence but also by a pre-existing alarming humanitarian situation.
“There are episodes of violence in several areas of the country but South Sudan also suffers peaks of diseases such as measles and malaria. We are worried about the upcoming rainy season and the risk of outbreaks in a context where medical services have been widely disrupted,” warns Ortiz. “This paints a grim picture for a vulnerable population with a scarcity of resources.”
MSF has been working in the region that today constitutes the Republic of South Sudan since 1983, and currently runs 16 projects in nine of the country’s ten states – Agok, Aweil, Bentiu, Gogrial, Gumuruk, Leer, Maban, Malakal, Nasir, Yambio, Lankien, Yuai and Yida and has set up three additional emergency operations in Juba, Awerial and Malakal.
MSF responds to emergencies, including large-scale displacement, refugee influxes, alarming nutrition situations and peaks of disease such as measles, malaria, acute watery diarrhoea and kala azar, in addition to providing basic and specialist healthcare services. MSF currently has 228 international staff working in its projects alongside 2,917 South Sudanese staff.