South Sudan: Thousands flee as conflict escalates
Following the current outbreak of violence in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative area of South Sudan, thousands of people have fled for their lives and are seeking refuge inside the United Nation’s Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Pibor town. Our teams have treated over 28 wounded in the last two weeks in in our primary healthcare centre in Pibor town. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to receive some wounded in Pibor, many are arriving in other health facilities, and many more are likely to have been unable to reach a health centre.
At the same time, MSF has suspended activities in our two primary healthcare units in the towns of Gumuruk and Lekongole – which have been abandoned by the population fleeing the clashes – and we are focusing our efforts on addressing the most urgent needs in Pibor.
“We received information from the community at 2:00 a.m. that we needed to leave immediately” says Nassam*, a resident from Lekongole recently displaced with his family. “We walked the whole night and by 4:00 p.m. the next day we arrived in Pibor. On the road there were many children and women. When we ran, we left everything as I had to carry my father. I was even robbed of my clothes and some small money on journey to Pibor.”
Limited access to healthcare and necessities
MSF is providing life-saving medical assistance in the PoC and has set up an emergency room for patient triage and stabilization. A delivery room and a referral system for those in need of surgery is also in place. “We are seeing a high number of malaria, pneumonia, measles, and weapon wounds cases,” says Lojana Augustino Ngorok, MSF Clinical Officer in Pibor. “The wounded are hard to treat here, and some need referral to Juba for more intensive care.”
The population currently has very limited access to most necessities like water, food, shelter and latrines. Our teams are working on reinforcing the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions for the displaced people. With only the 8 latrines that the MSF team managed to build so far, the situation of the over 5000 estimated people seeking safety inside the PoC site remains disastrous and will get worst as more people come in. Thousands more have fled into the bush.
“The camp setting is not a conducive environment and is very worrying. It is far too congested” continues Lojana Augustino Ngorok. “What I am worried about is the lack of hygiene and water for the population. Food is also a really big concern. Most people are short on food, some do not have any and have arrived with nothing to trade or buy food with.”
“The numbers of patients that our team is seeing in Pibor is too low for the magnitude of the current violence and displacement in the area. With limited health services outside of Pibor town, we are very concerned about the ability of civilians and the wounded to access medical care,” says Ania Zolkiewska, MSF Head of Mission.
*Name has been changed for privacy.