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Medical Agency Reports Fighting in Southern Sudan


Doctors Without Borders Tuesday said an upsurge of violence has killed, injured and displaced dozens of people in southern Sudan's Upper Nile and Jonglei provinces.

The medical aid agency's assistant head of mission for southern Sudan, Kate Done, tells VOA attacks by armed militias in the two provinces are causing havoc among the people living there.

"There are large areas where the people have all fled from villages and they are currently in the bush hiding until the fighting calms down when they can come back to their normal lives," she said. "Of course, this means that they are away from any access to any health care and away from water sources and their food, so it's quite a significant impact on the population."

The agency reports that clashes between armed groups and direct attacks on civilians have been taking place in various parts of the provinces since early last month.

For instance, in the village of Ulang last month, 31 people were reportedly killed and dozens injured during a raid by an armed militia. Patients and staff of the Doctors Without Borders' clinic there fled the violence.

In another village called Pieri, a militia raided the agency's clinic, stealing and destroying medical equipment and drugs and food for the patients. Some 120 patients being treated for tuberculosis were forced to run.

She says she thinks the armed attackers belong to groups of civilians or small rebel movements that fought during Sudan's long-running civil war. The army of southern Sudan is currently disarming and demobilizing such fighters.

More than two million people were killed and four million displaced by the almost two decades of warfare between the north and the south.

A two-year peace process between the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army southern rebels and northern government, held in neighboring Kenya, concluded when the two sides signed a comprehensive peace agreement in January of last year.

Done says that, despite the north-south accord, southern Sudan still does not appear to be at peace.

"One year into the peace process, we are hoping for greater peace and stability in southern Sudan," she added. "It seems to not be going that way and it's affecting our ability to be able to deliver humanitarian aid and help [deliver] assistance to the communities who need it the most."

Doctors Without Borders have evacuated its staff from two locations. Done says the agency may be forced to pull out of the area if the insecurity increases.