MSF Evacuates Hospital in Leer, South Sudan

The burned and destroyed office at the MSF hospital in Leer, South Sudan, February 23, 2014. The hospital was thoroughly looted, burned, ransacked, and effectively destroyed, along with most of Leer, sometime between the final days of January and early February, 2014, leaving hundreds of thousands of people cut off from critical, lifesaving medical care. The hospital, opened by MSF 25 years ago, was the only secondary health care facility in Unity State.
Michael Goldfarb/MSF
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In early 2014, MSF’s hospital in Leer, in South Sudan’s Unity State, was attacked, burned and looted. On May 9, staff and patients were evacuated again in anticipation of another devastating attack.

The hospital has served the population of Leer and its surrounding area for 27 years, providing treatment for HIV, tuberculosis, and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), malnutrition, and more.

The following are photos of MSF’s hospital in Leer when it was active and images of it after it was destroyed in early 2014. MSF calls on all groups to respect our patients, staff and health care facilities.

14-year old Kume Saadi Kuony recovers from his wounds at the MSF hospital in Leer. He was injured when a container full of unexploded ordnance exploded. It appears that people in the area had set fire to the grass around the container which is a traditional method of clearing and preparing the land for farming.
Petterik Wiggers
A burned and destroyed minor surgical ward at the MSF hospital in Leer, South Sudan, is viewed February 23, 2014. The hospital was thoroughly looted, burned, ransacked, and effectively destroyed, along with most of Leer, sometime between the final days of January and early February, 2014, leaving hundreds of thousands of people cut off from critical, lifesaving medical care. The hospital, opened by MSF 25 years ago, was the only secondary health care facility in Unity State.
Michael Goldfarb/MSF
South Sudan, Leer, March 2015 Overview of the Leer hospital. View from the maternity ward.
Petterik Wiggers/MSF
The burned and destroyed office at the MSF hospital in Leer, South Sudan, February 23, 2014. The hospital was thoroughly looted, burned, ransacked, and effectively destroyed, along with most of Leer, sometime between the final days of January and early February, 2014, leaving hundreds of thousands of people cut off from critical, lifesaving medical care. The hospital, opened by MSF 25 years ago, was the only secondary health care facility in Unity State.
Michael Goldfarb/MSF
Some three decades ago, a mystery disease spread throughout Sudan and what is now South Sudan, decimating communities, sewing fear, and killing scores. It turned out to be kala azar, also known as visceral leishmanaisis, a disease that is spread by the bite of a sandfly and that is, as this episode showed, fatal if not treated.MSF began caring for kala azar patients during that epidemic and has continued to do so through the present day, in both Sudan and South Sudan, and in other East African nations where the disease appears, as well as in South Asia. The needs are different in the different locations, because the strains of the disease found have their own particular characteristics. What unites them, however, is that the people trying to combat the disease are hamstrung by shortcomings in targeted research and development that has resulted in a lack of suitable diagnostics and treatment regimens.There are 400,000 new cases of kala azar diagnosed worldwide each year with approximately 40,000 deaths due to the parasitic disease. The eight most affected countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Sudan, and South Sudan – represent over 90 percent of new cases.MSF has successfully adapted its treatment protocols over the years in order to bring shorter, less toxic, and less painful options to patients, but as VII Photo’s John Stanmeyer saw on a recent trip to MSF projects in South Sudan, a great deal remains to be done in order to provide better, more specialized, more accessible treatment and testing, and to prevent further devastation.
John Stanmeyer/VII
Health promotion posters flank the entrance to the incinerated remains of the emergency room at the MSF hospital in Leer, South Sudan, February 23, 2014. The hospital was thoroughly looted, burned, ransacked, and effectively destroyed, along with most of Leer, sometime between the final days of January and early February, 2014, leaving hundreds of thousands of people cut off from critical, lifesaving medical care. The hospital, opened by MSF 25 years ago, was the only secondary health care facility in Unity State.
Michael Goldfarb/MSF
A stretcher looted from the MSF hospital in Leer, South Sudan, lies on the edge of the town's former airstrip, marked by fresh tank tracks, February 23, 2014. The hospital was thoroughly looted, burned, ransacked, and effectively destroyed, along with most of Leer, sometime between the final days of January and early February, 2014, leaving hundreds of thousands of people cut off from critical, lifesaving medical care. The hospital, opened by MSF 25 years ago, was the only secondary health care facility in Unity State.
Michael Goldfarb/MSF