MSF Denounces Killing of Aid Worker and Civilians in Southern Sudan

Nairobi/New York, February 15, 2002 — A Sudanese health worker from the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), 20 year-old James Koang Mar, and four other Sudanese civilians were killed last week when at least three bombs were dropped by the Government of Sudan on the village of Nimne in southern Sudan. An MSF team visited Nimne today and received confirmation of James Koang's death in the attack.

"We are shocked by this terrible news," said Jan van 't Land, MSF Project Coordinator who visited Nimne today. "James worked in the primary health care unit in Nimne. He was recently married and his newborn baby is now fatherless. It's a tragedy for his family, MSF, and the community, which can ill afford to lose a health care worker."

MSF strongly denounces this act of violence against civilians and aid workers. "What is happening in western Upper Nile is unacceptable. The toll of human suffering goes up every day: Nimne is now virtually deserted; we don't even know where our patients have gone, and a young health worker has been killed, in total violation of the laws of war," said Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF Head of Mission for southern Sudan.

The bombing followed the recent looting by militia soldiers of Nimne village in early February. The MSF team and the Nimne community managed to escape just before the soldiers arrived in Nimne. Hundreds fled to Bentiu and other areas in the region. A few individuals, including MSF's James Koang, returned several days later to Nimne where Koang was killed by the February 9 bombing.

The attack on Nimne came on the same day that planes of the government of Sudan bombed Akuem in the southern state of Bahr al-Ghazal, hours after a food airdrop from the UN World Food Program (WFP). The Akuem bombing resulted in the death of two children and wounded a dozen others.

These recent deaths are another episode in the ongoing suffering of the population of western Upper Nile. Fighting between militia groups allied to both rebel and government forces has swept through the region in the past three years and caused repeated displacements, deaths, and humanitarian suffering. Health facilities and other services provided by humanitarian agencies have ceased to exist in many areas due to the insecurity.

Nimne lies only fifty miles from the disputed oil fields of southern Sudan. Prior to the attacks, MSF was providing primary health care with approximately 2,000 consultations per month and medical treatment for kala azar, a wasting disease, which is fatal if left untreated. 107 kala azar patients and two meningitis patients are now dispersed in the region, their treatment interrupted by the incidents.