South Sudan: Access to Medical Care Dramatically Reduced Due to Violence


JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN/NEW YORK, AUGUST 25, 2016 — Thousands of people in desperate need are unable to access medical and humanitarian assistance due to ongoing fighting in South Sudan, the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today, calling on all parties to ensure the free movement of civilians and access for humanitarian organizations.

While MSF teams continue to treat 60,000 patients per month across the country, ongoing insecurity is causing a significant decline in access to health care. In recent weeks, fighting around Wau, Leer and parts of the Equatorias has affected the ability of thousands of people to access much-needed medical and humanitarian assistance. Warring parties must ensure immediate access to medical and humanitarian aid, particularly in these affected areas, MSF said.

Many people are too afraid to seek help due to the ongoing violence and the risk of attacks.  In addition, the recent surge in fighting has led a number of aid organizations to reduce their staff and projects or evacuate completely.

The levels of access to humanitarian assistance, including health care, food, water and shelter, is near nonexistent in some of the worst-affected areas.

After 35 years in South Sudan, MSF has observed a deterioration of respect for international humanitarian law and the protections it affords the population, medical facilities and MSF’s freedom to operate unhindered and untargeted.  Two MSF clinics were destroyed during the fighting in the Greater Upper Nile region four weeks ago, with the violence forcing the population to flee and leaving the area without any access to a medical clinic or hospital.

The impact of the conflict is further exacerbated by increased levels of disease, including malaria.

MSF’s humanitarian response in South Sudan is one of the organization’s largest in the world and MSF remains strongly committed to the South Sudanese people, its partnership with the health authorities and continuing to provide medical and humanitarian support where it is needed most. MSF’s priority today is to demand that those involved in the fighting allow MSF and other aid organizations access in order to determine the needs and provide the most appropriate response.

MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from health care in more than 60 countries around the world. MSF employs more than 3,000 South Sudanese staff and more than 300 international staff to respond to a wide range of medical emergencies and provide free and high-quality health care to people in need in locations across South Sudan. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality. MSF’s emergency response to the recent clashes in Juba involved essential medical and humanitarian assistance to the displaced population and residents most affected. These activities included mobile health clinics, surgery for wounded people, a cholera vaccination campaign, a cholera treatment center in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, and water trucking.


This cell phone photo shows the MSF clinic in Leer, South Sudan, following looting. Medical activities in the area remain suspended two months on as fighting continues and access to the affected populations is blocked.