MSF Responds to Evolving Needs Amidst Fighting in South Sudan

South Sudan 2013 © Kim Clausen

As tensions remain high across many regions of South Sudan and sporadic fighting continues, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency teams are increasing their response to affected areas by treating the injured, donating drugs and medical supplies to health facilities, and providing relief to those displaced by the violence.

Fighting erupted in Bentiu, the capital of Unity State on December 20. The Bentiu Ministry of Health hospital received 42 wounded, 19 of whom required surgery. An MSF team is currently providing support to Bentiu's hospital focusing on pre- and post-operative care, in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This past Sunday, fighting broke out in Nasir, in Upper Nile State. The hospital MSF runs in the town of Nasir received 24 patients who had been shot, two of whom died. Of the rest, teams admitted 16 to the hospital and treated eight in the emergency room.

“We are deeply concerned for the safety of those caught up in the violence,” says Mike White, MSF head of mission in South Sudan. “After 30 years of working in South Sudan, we are committed to doing everything we possibly can to help those most in need.”

In the country’s capital Juba, two emergency teams comprised of medics, logistics staff, and water treatment specialists have begun providing medical care for the more than 20,000 people displaced by the recent fighting.

“Yesterday, while setting up the mobile clinic for the displaced in Juba, there was still a queue of people arriving carrying all their belongings, with their children in tow,” says Forbes Sharp, MSF’s Emergency Coordinator. “With the ongoing conflict in the country, people are unsure of how the situation will evolve and are scared to return home.

“The situation is evolving fast in South Sudan and we are reacting as best we can to the changing landscape of the violence.”

Emergency teams are being deployed to reinforce MSF’s existing activities and to respond to needs as they arise. While MSF has reduced the number of non-essential staff in favor of teams that specialize in emergency response, MSF’s medical activities continue in all 12 programs the organization was previously running across the country.

MSF calls on all actors to respect medical facilities and workers and to assure safe access to health care.

MSF has been working in the region that today constitutes the Republic of South Sudan since 1983. MSF is present in eight of South Sudan’s ten states and responds to many emergencies, including large-scale displacement, refugee influxes, alarming nutrition situations and peaks of disease, such as malaria and kala azar, in addition to providing basic and specialist health care services.

Doing dressings at the UNMISS camp, Juba. Two MSF emergency teams comprised of medics, logistics staff and water treatment specialists are running medical activities for people displaced by the recent fighting in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. An estimated 20,000 people fled to two UN compounds and to other gathering points around the city, seeking refuge from the intense fighting that erupted in Juba. After conducting an independent assessment of the needs, two MSF teams are working to address the medical needs of the displaced. "A few patients have direct violence wounds, such as gunshots, but the situation has calmed now in Juba and trauma medicine no longer seems to be the main need," says Forbes Sharp, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Juba. "The displaced people do not yet feel safe to return to their homes and they are unwilling to cross town to seek healthcare in regular hospitals and clinics. So we are taking healthcare to them."
South Sudan 2013 © Kim Clausen