South Sudan News: 130 Doctors Without Borders Staff Missing

Andrew Meldrum, Global Post, January 3, 2012

Doctors Without Borders goes where others don’t. And that often gets its staff in trouble.

The doctors and medics of the group, also known by their French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres, go to centers of conflict where most other medical teams do not. And that means they are often in danger.

On December 29, two staff members were killed in Somalia.

The latest news from South Sudan is especially worrying. Some 130 staff at the Doctors Without Borders clinic in Pibor, South Sudan, are missing, according to a statement from the group.

Renewed ethnic violence in Jonglei State, South Sudan, has forced thousands offamilies to flee into the bush. Two Doctors Without Borders medical facilities have been targeted and the independent medical humanitarian organization has been forced to temporarily suspend its much needed medical activities in Pibor County.

Doctors and nurses had to evacuate a hospital in the town of Pibor and two outreach clinics as a column of 6,000 armed youths from the Lou Nuer tribe descended on the town in pursuit of a rival tribe, the Murle, according to the Telegraph. The hospital was reportedly torched by the attacking forces.

The Lou Nuer and Murle are in conflict, with each accusing the other of stealing cattle and killing tribal members. Neither UN peacekeepers nor the South Sudan army were able to stop the attack on Pibor.

“Thousands of people have fled for their lives in Lekongole and Pibor in the last week and are now hiding in the bush, frightened for their lives,” said Parthesarathy Rajendran, DWB head of mission in South Sudan. “They fled in haste and have no food or water, some of them doubtless carrying wounds or injuries, and now they are on their own, hiding, beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance.”

An estimated 150 people were killed, according to the United Nations, but now the invading band has gone back to their home areas, according to the BBC. However, the thousands who fled the area, including the medical staff, are still missing and believed to be hiding the the bush.

The village of Lekongole has been raised to the ground and an DWB team that assessed the situation in Pibor on Dec. 28 described it as a ghost town, virtually everyone having fled into the surrounding country. While the people are hidden in the bush, we cannot reach them to clean and dress wounds, treat diseases and provide general primary healthcare. The longer they are in the bush, the more serious it will become for people who are injured or sick.

During the violence, two of DWB’s medical facilities were looted and damaged; the clinic in the village of Lekongole on Dec. 27, and the small hospital in the town of Pibor on Dec. 31.

A third clinic in the nearby village of Gumruk has not been affected, according to the group. These three medical facilities are the only healthcare available for the 160,000 people in Pibor County. The nearest alternative medical facility is more than 50 miles away.

Doctors Without Borders condemns “in the most serious terms the targeting of neutral and impartial medical facilities.” The organization has provided neutral medical aid in South Sudan for the last three decades, working in many different communities in the country, treating anyone who needs medical care irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. Yet besides the two recent incidents, in August last year, DWB’s medical facilities in Pieri, further north in Jonglei State, were also looted and burned.

Ten DWB international staff were relocated to Juba on Dec. 23, just before the latest violence erupted, and the group’s 156 locally hired staff were strongly advised to leave their town and seek refuge in the area.

Although DWB has established contact with a few of them, many cannot be contacted as they have taken flight along with their families and neighbors. Their precise whereabouts are unknown and DWB is deeply concerned about their safety.

DWB is ready to return and recommence providing emergency care as soon as possible.

“There are several crisis situations evolving in different parts of South Sudan right now,” adds Rajendran. “Our medical teams are also currently responding to the crisis of refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Sudan. These are staunch reminders that despite independence, acute emergencies are still all too present in South Sudan and the capacity for emergency humanitarian response remains an absolute priority.”

According to its statements, Doctors Without Borders started working in Sudan in 1978 and begin activities in the area that is now South Sudan in 1983. DWB works in 8 of 10 states in South Sudan today, providing healthcare in 15 projects via roughly 2,500 national staff and 200 international staff.

DWB and its clinics serve a variety of communities, which offer free care and are open to all. In 2010 DWB teams across the country carried out 588,000 outpatient consultations, treated 37,000 people with malaria, delivered 20,000 babies, cared for 18,000 hospitalized patients, and cured almost 26,000 malnourished children under 5 years old.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G6LEHFMRHBS5AKUHWYPFAJSOHM BJ

    DWB is just another liberal “feel good” org that goes where it should not be going in the first place. Help the Africans, etc. is their mantra. I don’t care if they are “missing”. They knew what they were getting into! To heck with any of the poor Whites throughout the world and in America who really need some help, right DWB?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, most poor whites are civilized enough to appreciate the help given them.

  • http://countenance.wordpress.com/ Question Diversity

    Remember, South Sudan just had to secede from greater Sudan in order to stop religious violence.

  • Anonymous

    Why bother helping people like these? It’s just not worth it.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly.

      However, in the long run the genuine anti-whites will exterminate themselves.

  • Anonymous

    “In 2010 DWB teams across the country carried out 588,000 outpatient
    consultations, treated 37,000 people with malaria, delivered 20,000
    babies, cared for 18,000 hospitalized patients, and cured almost 26,000
    malnourished children under 5 years old.”

    That’s almost 3/4 of a million people the Western world will have to feed and take care of.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W25W7Z72IPG34VCBTTORC7GE3U Steven

      Why are we still treating them for malaria? It turns out even chimpanzees are smart enought to eat anti-malaria plants on thier own. Its not like the european having to harvest quinine without killing the plant, they can simply eat the leaves like chimps do.  Maybe if we deliver lots of picture books they can do without europeans. So blacks can’t deliver babies either how did they exist without europeans?
       
      Analysis of the mostly non-nutritional and sometimes slightly toxic foods
      consumed determined that most had medicinal properties. Based on the study, the
      chimpanzee medicine chest appears to include the following: Antiaris
      toxicaria leaves (anti-tumor), Cordia abyssinica pith
      (anti-malarial and anti-bacterial), Ficus capensis (anti-bacterial),
      Ficus natalensis bark (anti-diarrheal), Ficus urceolaris
      leaves (de-worming agent)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G6LEHFMRHBS5AKUHWYPFAJSOHM BJ

    BTW, I was also wondering WHO is paying for all these DWB and their travel expenses, medications, surgical instruments,  accomodations , buildings, etc. etc.?  They have claimed they give their time for free, but I find that very hard to believe as not a single one would give any of us poor folks here any free services. How about some free dental experts to help our elderly who desperately need their permanent teeth pulled and need false teeth but have no money to pay for them? I have heard of some here where I live that would appreciate some sort of help in that area. Medicare/medicaid will not pay anything for dental work for the elderly, but all these kids under 18 or 21 get everything for free under medicaid. We all know who most of the “younger people are on medicaid, don’t we?

  • Anonymous

    liberals expect these people to respect the laws of neutrality in a war zone just because they do. It’s just beyond stupid, no sympathy at all.

    • Zorro

      I just saw a News video which was about four US Marines urinating on three Taliban corpses, which these two Sniper Teams had just taken out.

      My GOD, the outrage, not only from the Afghan President, but from our own Marine Corps.

      The last time I looked, we were at war with the Taliban savages, who beat their women and children, but are also fond of cutting their heads off, or off of those that are unfortunate enough to fall into their hands, such as Wall Street Journal Reporter, Daniel Pearl.

      Now, I don’t remember the US taking a touchy-feely position during World War II when dealing with German, Italian, and Japanese Soldiers, living or dead, and we certainly didn’t cry oceans of tears over the firebombing of Dresden, a German City, with no Military significance, while hundreds of thousands of women and children were burned alive.

      It is hard to believe that four US Marines will face Criminal Prosecution for, of all things, desecrating a body. I believe those bodies were initially desecrated by those Marine Snipers, when they blew their heads off. But that’s their job, to kill the enemy, and instill fear among those of our enemies still alive.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GenXinOz GenX ANZAC

    Be you a child, a woman, an elder, a doctor, a firefighter or a ‘brother’ etc. 
    It seems that there is no designation which makes you immune to violence when the Bantu male has his emotions up or is hunting with his pack.

  • Anonymous

    This sounds like nothing more than pure propaganda. If the DWB really are operating in lawless war zones then of COURSE they will have to pack up and get out of some areas occasionally.

    All  of the “missing staff” are locals that ran off into the bush. I wouldn’t expect that the locals would be easy to contact as I doubt their cell phones or laptops are working right now!

  • Anonymous

    How many years, dollars and  lives have been wasted trying to bring this cesspool of a region and people into the 21st century? 

    Just save your money and efforts – they’ll all be over here soon enough.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W25W7Z72IPG34VCBTTORC7GE3U Steven

    Why are we still treating them for malaria? It turns out even chimpanzees are smart enought to eat anti-malaria plants on thier own. Its not like the european having to harvest quinine without killing the plant, they can simply eat the leaves like chimps do.  Maybe if we deliver lots of picture books they can do without europeans. So blacks can’t deliver babies either how did they exist without europeans?
     
    Analysis of the mostly non-nutritional and sometimes slightly toxic foods
    consumed determined that most had medicinal properties. Based on the study, the
    chimpanzee medicine chest appears to include the following: Antiaris
    toxicaria leaves (anti-tumor), Cordia abyssinica pith
    (anti-malarial and anti-bacterial), Ficus capensis (anti-bacterial),
    Ficus natalensis bark (anti-diarrheal), Ficus urceolaris
    leaves (de-worming agent)