July 2, 2014 (JUBA) – At least 58 people have been killed while lying in their hospital beds since conflict erupted in South Sudan in mid-December last year, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said.
- A sick child lies on a bed in a hospital in Jonglei state capital Bor on 15 March 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
“The conflict has at times seen horrific levels of violence, including against healthcare facilities,” Raphael Gorgeu, the head of MSF Holland, said at a press conference in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday.
Violence flared among the presidential guards unit in Juba on 15 December following escalating political tensions within the ruling SPLM, quickly spreading to other regions.
Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states witnessed some of the worst violence, with dozens killed in their beds or on hospital grounds in at least six different locations.
“Patients have been shot in their beds and lifesaving medical facilities have been burnt and effectively destroyed,” said Gorgeu.
“These attacks have far-reaching consequences for hundreds of thousands of people who are cut off from medical services,” he added.
The MSF report, entitled South Sudan: Pervasive Violence against Healthcare, highlights attacks on hospitals in Bor, Malakal, Bentiu, Nassir and Leer town, which were the scene of fierce clashes between government troops and rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.
In Jongeli’s capital, Bor, 14 patients were killed in the hospital, while one health ministry official was also shot dead in December, MSF said.
In Upper Nile state capital Malakal, 14 people were also killed in the hospital, including 11 patients in February, while 28 people were killed in Unity state’s Bentiu hospital, including a ministry official.
MSF has condemned targeted violence against health facilities, saying such incidents have greatly affected the organisation’s ability to deliver critical humanitarian assistance.
MSF said the damage on healthcare affect “vulnerable people” who desperately need charity assistance.
Most health facilities in South Sudan are run by non-government organisations or aid agencies, with destruction to vital facilities and equipment leaving already vulnerable people without access to treatment or medical care.
In Unity state’s Leer county, MSF had been providing health services to 270,000 people before the entire building and laboratory were was reduced to rubble.
MSF said it had resumed operations in Leer last month, treating 1,600 malnourished children in the first week.
“However, the organisation is unable to offer anything services [like] routine vaccinations and emergency surgeries,” MSF said.