Sudan: Tens of Thousands Displaced by Fighting in Abyei Area

MSF Committed to Delivering Impartial Medical Care

MSF has treated 21 wounded people in Agok, south of Abyei, and donated drugs and equipment to a hospital in Abyei town. Teams are discussing the provision of aid in the north with authorities.

Abyei, March 4, 2011—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to the consequences of fighting in various locations north of the disputed border district of Abyei, Sudan. 

The latest outbreak of violence began on Sunday, February 27, some 20 km (12 miles) north of Abyei town. Since yesterday, tens of thousands of people have fled the town, leaving it mostly empty. MSF’s upmost concern is to be able to reach and treat all patients impartially.

The MSF hospital in Agok, 40 km (24 miles) south of Abyei, received 21 wounded people during the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, March 3. All patients had sustained gunshot wounds, with three requiring surgery; all have now been stabilized. The MSF team in Abyei also donated drugs and equipment to the Ministry of Health hospital in Abyei to support the treatment of wounded patients there.

MSF is particularly concerned for wounded people seeking medical care north of the Abyei area, some of whom have been evacuated to the hospital in the town of Muglad. MSF is in discussions with authorities about providing assistance to the people most in need in this area.

"MSF is an independent and neutral medical organization and reiterates its objective to reach all patients and provide them care with complete impartiality," said Bruno Jochum, MSF director of operations. "It is imperative that medical assistance be provided to all people affected by the latest surge in violence."

Although the situation is relatively calm today, the MSF team reports that tensions remain high in Abyei town and its environs. MSF mobile teams from Agok and Abyei are conducting assessments in the Abyei area in order to respond to the medical needs of the population displaced by the fighting.

MSF staff in Agok are on standby to respond to a further influx of wounded if fighting continues.

MSF has been working in the Abyei region since 2006. In response to clashes that occurred in 2008, which forced thousands of people to flee south, MSF set up a hospital in Agok. MSF provides primary healthcare services in Abyei town, including antenatal care and treatment for malnutrition. In 2010, the team carried out 18,534 outpatient consultations. Women in labor and patients in serious condition are referred to the MSF hospital in Agok, which provides a wide range of services, including surgical, maternity, inpatient and outpatient care, a pediatric unit, a tuberculosis ward, and a therapeutic feeding center for malnourished children. The hospital is equipped with a full operating theater. In 2010, 31,199 outpatient consultations were carried out at the hospital.

MSF has been providing emergency medical humanitarian assistance in Sudan since 1979. MSF currently operates 27 projects in 13 states in the country.