NAIROBI — The compound of medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the battle-torn town of Malakal in South Sudan was looted Thursday, MSF emergency coordinator Louisa Markering told VOA News.
"We don’t know who the people are. They didn’t take everything. They just entered with weapons and took some computers and stuff -- no injured people,” Markering said, urging both sides in the month-long conflict in South Sudan to "respect the humanitarian space so that our teams can continue to help people in need."
In the last week, MSF facilities have been looted twice, making it "very difficult to continue working," she said.
High levels of insecurity in South Sudan have prevented MSF medical personnel from travelling into the field to provide care to people who have been injured in fighting that since Dec. 15 has pitted government troops against forces opposed to the regime in Juba.
U.N. officials have said they believe up to 10,000 people may have been killed and more than 400,000 displaced in four weeks of fighting.
MSF has continued to treat people at its medical facilities and at U.N. facilities around South Sudan where tens of thousands of internally displaced people have sought shelter.
In the month since the violence broke out, MSF has admitted more than 1,500 patients to its facilities, carried out more than 200 surgeries, assisted with 852 births and treated 655 people who have been wounded in fighting, Markering said.
Fierce fighting in Malakal has displaced thousands of people and left scores wounded, Markering said.
"As far as we know, in the UNMISS compound there are 10,000 people. And in the last two days, from the combat in Malakal, we treated more than 100 people with gunshot wounds," she said.
A general opposed to President Salva Kiir said Tuesday that anti-government forces had retaken control of Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, after a two-day battle. Government spokespeople have denied the claim.
South Sudan was plunged into violence on Dec. 15 when renegade soldiers attacked an army headquarters building in Juba.
Kiir said the attack was a coup attempt, mounted by his former vice president Riek Machar, but Machar has consistently denied having anything to do with the violence.
Peace talks got under way in Addis Ababa early this month after fighting had spread to most parts of South Sudan.