December 20, 2013

DoctorsWithout Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has begun providing assistance to people wounded and displaced by the intense fighting that erupted in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, this past week.

“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 30 years, and we are activating our emergency response capacity now that people are in clear need.”

On December 18, an MSF team provided the Juba Teaching Hospital with drugs and medical supplies that included tetanus vaccines, syringes, injectable antibiotics, wound-dressing material, a specialized kit for treating 50 wounded patients, and a supply of body bags in case of mortalities. They also set up a tented ward so the already overcrowded hospital can expand its capacity to receive additional patients.

Other MSF teams have been assessing the situation for displaced people in several locations around the city—including in a United Nations compound near the airport and a cathedral—where people have fled seeking safety. With tens of thousands of people displaced in Juba, MSF will continue working to identify areas where the needs are greatest, and then scale up its response accordingly.

“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,” he continued, “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.”

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