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Sudan: Medical Aid Given to Thousands Who Fled Bombing Attacks

  • Joe DeCapua

The international Rescue Committee says it’s providing medical care to thousands of people in southern Sudan, who fled Sudanese army bombing attacks in November. The attacks occurred along the north-south border.

The IRC says about 3,500 people – who are ethnic Dinka - have sought refuge in northern Bahr el Ghazal.

In Juba, Susan Purdin, the group’s country director in southern Sudan, says, “The estimate is there are 850 families and the composition of the families is primarily women and children. It’s one of the questions that our assessment team was asking: where are the men?”

The international Rescue Committee says it’s providing medical care to thousands of people in southern Sudan, who fled Sudanese army bombing attacks in November. The attacks occurred along the north-south border. The IRC says about 3,500 people – who are ethnic Dinka - have sought refuge in northern Bahr el Ghazal. In Juba, Susan Purdin, the group’s country director in southern Sudan, says, “The estimate is there are 850 families and the composition of the families is primarily women and children. It’s one of the questions that our assessment team was asking: where are the men?” There are a number of possible reasons why men are not among the displaced. Purdin says they may have stayed home to protect their property or because they have jobs or simply because they wanted the women and children somewhere safer. ‘The population lives in the border region where the border is one of those artificial lines drawn on a map. But the population actually lives across the area,” she says. Long walk The IRC estimates the women and children walked about 80 to 120 kilometers. They gathered at a village called Jaac. Purdin says, “That’s a place where IRC operates a small primary health care unit, a small clinic offering outpatient services.” The displaced Sudanese arrived in Jaac with very few possessions. Purdin says, “Their health is basically ok given the circumstances they live in.” The IRC medical team, after assessing their condition, began an immediate immunization program. This included vaccinations against polio, diphtheria, TB and measles. “This is a population that has high risk of infectious disease, Malaria is endemic,” she says. Diarrhea was also a problem because the Sudanese drank water from muddy holes as they journeyed to Jaac. The International Rescue Committee is also preparing for January’s referendum on southern independence. Purdin says, “We’re hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst” in the event any violence breaks out. Medical supplies have been strategically placed in the region in case they’re needed.

There are a number of possible reasons why men are not among the displaced. Purdin says they may have stayed home to protect their property or because they have jobs or simply because they wanted the women and children somewhere safer.

‘The population lives in the border region where the border is one of those artificial lines drawn on a map. But the population actually lives across the area,” she says.

Long walk

The IRC estimates the women and children walked about 80 to 120 kilometers. They gathered at a village called Jaac. Purdin says, “That’s a place where IRC operates a small primary health care unit, a small clinic offering outpatient services.”

The displaced Sudanese arrived in Jaac with very few possessions. Purdin says, “Their health is basically ok given the circumstances they live in.”

The IRC medical team, after assessing their condition, began an immediate immunization program. This included vaccinations against polio, diphtheria, TB and measles.

“This is a population that has high risk of infectious disease, Malaria is endemic,” she says. Diarrhea was also a problem because the Sudanese drank water from muddy holes as they journeyed to Jaac.

The International Rescue Committee is also preparing for January’s referendum on southern independence. Purdin says, “We’re hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst” in the event any violence breaks out.

Medical supplies have been strategically placed in the region in case they’re needed.

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