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ICRC shuts health center in Upper Nile state over shootings

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July 12, 2015 (JUBA) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it forcibly shut its health facility in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state following last week’s killing of two people at the centre.

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South Sudanese women collecting sorghum and oil some hours after an airdrop conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Unity state’s Leer (Photo: ICRC/Jacob Zocherman)

Several people, ICRC said in a statement, died following the withdrawal of essential medical officers from Kodok county when its facility was attacked on 5 July.

“Given the generalized sense of insecurity prevailing in parts of Upper Nile state, we’ve temporarily suspended our medical mission in Kodok. Our mobile surgical team will only be able to return once the security situation improves,” Franz Rauchenstein, the head of ICRC delegation for South Sudan said in rhe statement issued on Sunday.

Several doctors and nurses reportedly fled the health unit after sustained firing was directed at the facility and that nearly a dozen patients died at the facility afterwards.

“Eleven patients died due to lack of care at Kodok health unit,” ICRC stressed.

At least 40 patients, mainly those wounded during the clashes in Upper Nile’s Kodok county arrived at the facility, but were left without medical care.

The 19-months long conflict in South Sudan, which badly hit the states of Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity, has inflicted heavy toll on the human as well as health and education facilities. Most of the areas had struggling medical centers even before war broke out.

International non-governmental organisations have accused both parties to the conflict of violating international laws by attacking health facilities. Patients have been killed on hospital beds within the conflict-affected states of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile.

“A team of eight, five of whom were doctors and nurses have been temporarily relocated to the capital, Juba,” further stressed the ICRC head of delegation in South Sudan.

According to ICRC, about 70 patients arrive daily, seeking treatment at Kodok hospital before the fighting began and hundreds of people sought medical attention each week.

It, however, said the “situation has gone from bad to worse as a result of this incident.”

(ST)

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