Juba/Brussels, November 29, 2007 — Four people were murdered and one injured inside a car of the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bor, South Sudan. Eight people, patients and members of their families, including a baby, had been evacuated from the hospital when tribal fighting broke out inside the facility. They were inside the MSF car in the organization's compound across the road from the hospital when they were attacked by people pursuing them. Two adults and the baby escaped unharmed by hiding under the car's benches.
"This is an outrageous act and a serious breach of the safety that a hospital should provide," says Meinie Nicolai, Operational Director for MSF in Brussels. "Four people have died, one is injured, and three more narrowly escaped. This attack affects our ability to provide medical care in Bor hospital, which has an important regional role for referrals from all over Jonglei state."
MSF has been working in Bor since March 2006 providing general health care in Bor hospital. On average, the team does 250 consultations and three surgical interventions a day.
The 17 staff members are badly shaken by the violent events and most members are being flown out for counseling. MSF hopes to keep a small team in Bor, in part by bringing in new staff, to minimize the interruption of directly lifesaving activities in the hospital.
At the time of the killings, MSF was treating 23 people who were brought in overnight with injuries sustained in clashes between tribes.
"From our compound and inside the hospital we treat everybody who needs medical care, and people from different tribes often lie side by side in the wards," adds Nicolai. "The disrespect shown by the people who chose to extend their fighting into the hospital and our compound is absolutely intolerable. We ask of all local and regional authorities that they do whatever is in their power to prevent any further breaches of the integrity of health facilities and the safety of patients and staff."