News / Africa

    Patients Killed in Beds, Health Care Destroyed in South Sudan - MSF

    • An infant scale lies broken amid patient records and medical supplies at Leer Hospital in Unity state, South Sudan. Doctors Without Borders says the hospital was vandalized something between the end of January and early February.
    • A vandalized operating table stands in Leer Hospital's surgical theater amid ransacked medical supplies.
    • An aerial shot taken over Leer in Unity state, South Sudan, shows many tukuls burnt to the ground.
    • MSF personnel found medical supplies strewn around Leer Hospital when they returned to assess damages. The hospital opened 25 years ago and served 300,000 people in South Sudan's Unity state.
    • A burnt, damaged operating table at Leer Hospital in Unity state.
    • A girl is treated for burns in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic set up at the camp for displaced people in the grounds of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, South Sudan, on January 12, 2014.
    Hospital Looted in South Sudan
    Mugume Davis Rwakaringi

    Scores of people have been killed in hospitals in South Sudan since the country plunged into conflict in December, and attacks on medical facilities have helped to crush the already fragile health care system, medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Tuesday.

    "Patients have been shot in their beds, medical and humanitarian staff have been killed, and hospitals, ambulances and medical equipment have been burnt, looted and otherwise destroyed," MSF said in a report entitled South Sudan Conflict: Violence Against Healthcare.

    "An already fragile healthcare system has been destroyed in areas affected by conflict and largely neglected in other areas, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without medical care at a time when it is critically needed," the report says.

    Patients, including women and children, were shot in their hospital beds, and medical and humanitarian staff were killed, MSF said.

    Raphael Gorgeu, the MSF head of mission in South Sudan, listed the total fatalities: 25 of the people killed in attacks on hospitals were patients, 27 were people seeking shelter in the hospitals, two of them were ministry of health staff and 4 were unidentified people.

    Devastating impact

    He said the attacks have had devastating consequences on local populations.

    "Hundreds of thousands of people became cut off from health care at a time they actually needed it most," Gorgeu said.

    "One health facility destroyed, one ambulance burned, one health worker killed means no access to health care for thousands of people,” he said.

    MSF project coordinator in Unity State Sarah Maynard said entire buildings in the town of Leer were reduced to ash and rubble, and life-saving surgical equipment was destroyed in an attack in January.

    MSF staff were pulled out of Leer after the attack, and when they returned in May, Maynard said she was shocked to see the extent of the destruction.

    “One of the things that really struck me the most was the absence of life and movement," she said.

    "I had never seen a hospital without patients in it, with no staff, no noise -- not even babies crying," she said.

    Before the attack, the MSF health facility in Leer provided preventive care and treatment for chronic diseases like HIV and tuberculosis to more than a quarter of a million people.

    The patients kept on coming, desperate for our help, and although we had no delivery beds, the mothers were coming and giving birth on the floor because they wanted to be close to the medical teams...

    Months afterwards, when MSF returned to Leer, people in the town were desperate for medical attention, Maynard said.

    MSF did what it could to help them, often working in deplorable conditions.

    "We had no power and no water," Maynard said.

    "The patients kept on coming, desperate for our help, and although we had no delivery beds, the mothers were coming and giving birth on the floor because they wanted to be close to the medical teams, at least,” she said.

    Malnourished children

    Maynard said she was also overwhelmed by the number of malnourished children she and MSF staff treated during their first week back in Leer.

    “We started a feeding program for severely malnourished children under five. Hundreds of mothers were bringing their kids for weighing and measuring and I remember thinking in the first week that maybe we will admit 500 children in the program. In the end, it was 900,” she said.

    Gorgeu said both government and opposition leaders have assured MSF that the violence against health care facilities and staff will stop, but there was little evidence that those promises are being kept.

    “We do have, at the highest level from all sides, positive messages when it comes to protection for health care, protection of MSF. But the difficulty is that these messages are not always translated into reality in the field,” he said.

    Government health officials were tied up in a meetings and were unavailable for comment about the MSF report.

     

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.