MSF Condemns Bombing of Its Hospital in Kajo Keji, Southern Sudan

Nairobi/New York, January 13, 1999 — The international medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières today condemned the bombing of a civilian hospital where the organization works, in Kajo Keji county, Western Equatoria province, southern Sudan. At 1:30 p.m., five bombs were dropped over the MSF hospital compound. Three of the bombs hit the compound, completely destroying the immunization stocks and causing extensive damage to the surgical theater and outpatient departments. There were no casualties. It is clear that the civilian hospital was the target, since no bombs were dropped elsewhere.

MSF has been working in the hospital at Kajo Keji since September 1997 serving a population of 90,000 people. Of the hospital's 60 beds, 30 are reserved for children. In the last month and a half, the government of Sudan has systematically bombed several hospitals in Eastern and Western Equatoria. Civilian hospitals in Yei, Nimule, Labone, and Chukudum have been targets.

"This is a deplorable act which clearly targets civilians and medical assistance to the civilian population. MSF questions whether this is a deliberate policy of the government of Sudan to target the civilian populations and hospitals," said Ettore Larici, MSF head of mission in southern Sudan. "This bombing will have a huge impact on the population. Many displaced people and refugees have been returning to Kajo Keji county, primarily because of the medical services available here."

The deliberate targeting of a civilian hospital is a violation of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. The government of Sudan is obliged under these principles to respect the protection of the wounded, the sick and medical units. MSF urges the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian principles and cease targeting civilians and medical sites.

MSF has been working in Sudan since 1985 assisting the population in the north and the south. MSF brings assistance to populations in distress, to victims of man-made disasters, and to victims of armed conflict without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political affiliation.