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MSF Reveals Details of Hospital Attacks in South Sudan

A South Sudanese nurse talks to a malnourished internally displaced orphan girl in the hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) inside the camp for IDPs in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 29, 2014.
A South Sudanese nurse talks to a malnourished internally displaced orphan girl in the hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) inside the camp for IDPs in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 29, 2014.
Gabe Joselow

The international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders says at least 58 people have been killed on hospital grounds in South Sudan since a conflict broke out late last year.  The aid agency, better known by its French initials MSF, released a report Tuesday documenting repeated attacks on its facilities across the country.

MSF has released details of attacks on hospitals and health care workers since December, when a political dispute in South Sudan first spiraled into inter-ethnic violence.

According to the report, MSF facilities have been ransacked, patients and health care staff killed, and vehicles, including ambulances, have been destroyed or stolen.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, MSF Program Manager for South Sudan William Robertson said the violence represented an “inversion” of the role of health care facilities as places of safety.

“Indeed the violence carried out against the wounded and sick and those seeking shelter are not only violations of international law, but they are an affront to human dignity. The damage has far-reaching consequences beyond the act of violence itself as hundreds of thousands of people become cut off from health care at a time when they need it the most,” he said.

The attacks documented by MSF took place in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states - areas at the center of the conflict between government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, and rebel factions aligned with former vice president Riek Machar.

In one incident in February, MSF said armed groups entered the 280-bed Malakal Teaching Hospital, killing 11 patients and three other unidentified people.  According to the report, patients said the assailants demanded money or mobile phones and shot those who could not pay up.

Robertson said all sides in the conflict have been involved in attacks on health facilities.

“It is clear, both parties have committed atrocities and these acts.  This is evident for us.  We are not in a position to identify main perpetrators, because at times we have not been present at the worst periods.  There are others who are able to do it.  But clearly all parties have committed these events,” he said.

Robertson also said others, who survived hospital attacks, have suffered psychological trauma, after some laid for days next to the bodies of those who were shot in their beds.

Warring sides in South Sudan have signed three ceasefire agreements since January to end the violence and allow for humanitarian access, but the deals were all quickly violated.

The United Nations says 1.5 million people have been displaced by violence, and reports alarming rates of hunger across the country. 

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by: Lisa from: Tx
July 01, 2014 5:38 PM
The killing of innocent people is act of evil. Have been in both areas this people are leaving their lifes, the killing started from the city juba, when the government army started knocking at peoples door asking if their nuers, when you yes, your shot to death. Its the same command which is pass to Dr rieks areas, remember if the presendent did not call upon his Amy to disamy rieks, security the killing shouldn't have happened. The only thing which we have to understand that its because of kiir, thousand have to die just because of being nuer. Am from equitorie i did spend half of my life in nuer land. Have never been mock at or called outside nuer are peaceful people. But why the government have to permit its army to kill. The ugandan army, the Sudan rebel from dafur under the command of kiir to kill the nuers. Because they could not kill Dr riek. So they had to go at the hospital thinking he is their. Nobody will kill Dr riek, remember he is for peace the government think by killing his people will stop him from promoting peace. Am sorry for the deases, God have mercy on their souls. I will never forget about all who pass away because of government studipity. We all know the truth very soon Jesus will stop the killing and suffering of his people.am asking every south sudanese to pray or fast for sake of the dead, the suffering and the voiceless. We can fight evil with prayers. And also we pray for the protection of the peace makers.

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