News / Africa

Violence in South Sudan Town Shuts Down Hospital

An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor town in South Sudan's Jonglei state in this 2012 file photo.
An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor town in South Sudan's Jonglei state in this 2012 file photo.
Jill Craig
The humanitarian situation in a rural area of eastern South Sudan appears to be worsening after a hosptial run by an international medical group was heavily damaged in violence last week.

Residents are fleeing Pibor town, which is in Jonglei state, near the border with Ethiopia, and some NGOs are evacuating staff from the area.

The local hospital, which was run by the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has suspended its operations.

Speaking from Brussels, the MSF coordinator of Operations for South Sudan Richard Veerman said that stepped-up tensions caused the group to begin evacuating staff three weeks ago.

“We’ve been able to have a look the day before yesterday and found out that not only are we missing our food stocks and beds, but more worrying has been the deliberate attempt to make our facility inoperable,” he said.

“Electric cables were cut, drugs were smashed on the floor and stamped, offices were [damaged], air conditioning of our pharmacy was ripped off the wall and stomped on the floor… so this makes it very difficult for us to get back to operations."

Now that the hospital is inoperable, Veerman said his biggest concern is the health and safety of residents, who already had a tough time obtaining medical services before this latest incident.

“Normally,” he said, “we talk about a population of roughly 100,000 who have no access to healthcare. We were the only place that was providing healthcare in the larger area around Pibor. These people have no access to healthcare at the moment.”

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in Juba on Tuesday that it is concerned about reports of incidents carried out by what it calls “allegedly defected and ill-disciplined members of security forces.” It’s also concerned about statements coming from David Yau Yau’s militia telling civilians to leave Pibor and Kapoeta, in Eastern Equatoria state.

Ding Akol, the minister of local government in Jonglei state, was serving as the acting governor when the hospital was looted. He said the government is investigating who is behind the violence.

“You know what happened in Pibor is that there was a rumor circulating among the civil population in Pibor town that Yau Yau is going to attack Pibor. So he created a commotion in town, so the civilians, most of them left the town, fearing that the town will be attacked by the Yau Yau,” he said. “And in that, some few elements from the other organized forces – police, prison, they left. And they are the ones we suspect broke into the MSF compound.”

PLAN International is a children’s rights NGO that works in the area. Its South Sudan country director, Gyan Adhikari, said they are concerned about the security situation in Pibor, especially in light of the looting of the MSF hospital, and has been withdrawing its non-essential staff from the area over the last few days.

He said he doesn’t know when they will be able to return.

“It depends upon the government’s actions, you know. How far, how fast the government takes action and returns the peace, the security over there,” he said. “So we can go as soon as possible because we are ready. I can’t predict the date but I am hoping two to three weeks’ time, it will get better. But that’s my prediction. It might work, it might not work.”

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated on Thursday that the UN Mission in South Sudan has a “full-time” presence in Pibor and that UNMISS peacekeepers have clear instructions to assist in protecting the civilian population there.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More