South Sudan: Fleeing Civilians Cut Off From Emergency Care in Wau Shilluk

Marta Cazorla/MSF

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN/NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 3, 2017—Armed conflict in South Sudan's Greater Upper Nile region has driven thousands of people from the town of Wau Shilluk in recent days, cutting people off from emergency health care, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

MSF calls on all sides in the conflict to ensure that civilians can access emergency health care, clean water, and food, and that medical facilities, staff, and vehicles are not targeted.

Most of Wau Shilluk's 20,500 residents fled into the bush on January 25 when opposing forces started an exchange of artillery fire across the Nile. On January 26, opposing sides again exchanged artillery fire. One shell landed dangerously close to the MSF clinic in Malakal town, which is located on the opposite side of the Nile from Wau Shilluk.

When Wau Shilluk's market was hit by mortar fire days later, the rest of the population evacuated.

"What really concerns us is the inability of displaced people to reach emergency health care, safe drinking water, food, and shelter," said Marcus Bachmann, MSF head of mission for South Sudan. "We also call on both sides to respect the protected status of medical facilities and ensure that all displaced people have access to medical care. MSF is closely monitoring the situation and evaluating how best we can provide medical support to the sick and wounded."

MSF maintains medical operations in its hospital in Wau Shilluk, a hospital in the Malakal Protection of Civilians site, and a clinic in Malakal town. However, the sick and wounded close to Wau Shilluk are finding it difficult to access MSF's hospital, and MSF's mobile teams are facing difficulty in reaching people in need.