Inadequate Aid as Violence Escalates in South Sudan Emergency

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Emily Linendoll
Press Officer
Direct: 212-763-5764
Mobile: 646-206-9387
E-mail: emily.linendoll@msf.org

Inadequate Aid as Violence Escalates in South Sudan Emergency

NAIROBI / NEW YORK - The people of Southern Sudan are trapped in a worsening crisis
following the most violent year since the 2005 peace agreement that
ended more than two decades of civil war with the North. However, the
response to the escalating emergency is inadequate, said the
international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without
Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

In a paper titled ‘Facing Up To Reality: Health Crisis Deepens as Violence Escalates in Southern Sudan,'
MSF calls on government authorities, international donors and relief
organizations to recognize the full extent of the crisis and ensure
peoples' immediate humanitarian needs are urgently prioritized.

"Violence is surging, plunging people from one disaster to the
next," said Stephan Goetghebuer, MSF director of operations for Sudan.
"Yet immediate needs are not being met. A better response to this
growing emergency is crucial, or clinics will continue to run out of
vital medicines, gunshot patients will reach medical care many days
after attacks, and countless others will receive no care at all."

Over the last year MSF teams witnessed a disturbing deterioration in
the security situation in Southern Sudan, from increasing clashes in
Upper Nile, Jonglei, Lakes, and Central Equatoria States, to attacks by
the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group, in the
Equatoria States.

The violent clashes in Jonglei and Upper Nile States that MSF
responded to suggest a more serious trend than traditional
"cattle-rustling." Villages, rather than cattle camps, were often
attacked, with women and children the majority of victims. In these
attacks, three times more people were killed than wounded, and 87
percent of those MSF treated suffered gunshot wounds. MSF performed
1,426 surgeries in the first ten months of 2009 in Jonglei and Upper
Nile alone, more than the 1,271 total surgical interventions MSF
carried out in all its projects in Southern Sudan in 2008.

"The intensity of this year's violence has severe consequences,"
said Shelagh Woods, MSF deputy head of mission. "We treat injured women
who lost entire families, children with legs destroyed by bullets,
people who fled without time to bury loved ones. People do not feel
safe and live in constant fear of attacks."

The violence has displaced up to 250,000 people who live in
precarious conditions where disease thrives and malnutrition is a grave
risk. In the first ten months of 2009, MSF admitted 11,129 patients
with severe malnutrition to its clinics, compared to 6,139 admissions
for all 2008.

The rising violence aggravates the already dire medical situation in
Southern Sudan, where 75 percent of people have no access to even the
most basic healthcare, and where large-scale outbreaks of disease
threaten lives. MSF has already treated 175 patients in the first six
weeks of an outbreak of kala-azar-a fatal, if untreated, parasitic
disease-compared to 127 for the whole of 2008.

However, the focus of international donors on longer term
development remains disproportionate to that on immediate humanitarian
aid.

"Alarm bells must ring when only a handful of agencies are
mobilizing to respond to serious needs on time," said Goetghebuer.
"Development alone is not enough in Southern Sudan. Emergency
preparedness and humanitarian action must be priorities."

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an
emergency medical humanitarian organization, has been working in Sudan
since 1979. The organization currently has permanent projects in Red
Sea State, Northern Darfur, Western and Central Equatoria, Northern
Bahr-el-Ghazal, Warrap, Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States and Abyei.
MSF also runs emergency projects in other areas. MSF is an independent
and neutral aid agency that serves all people based on medical need,
regardless of tribe, race, political or religious affiliation.

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Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF's work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.

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