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South Sudan: Taking care of the displaced people and communities

15 Sep 2016

When fighting broke out in the capital Juba at the end of 2013 and rapidly spread throughout the country, Médecins Sans Frontières started dispatching medical supplies and staff to critically affected locations. The number of projects rapidly increased from 13 to 17, which remain today across nine states. 

In the vast Sudd area, in the country’s north – where the Nile and its tributaries meet in one of the world’s largest wetlands – thousands of civilians were forced to flee into the bush and swamplands or under the protection of peacekeeping troops of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan at the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu. The population of the camp reached almost 125,000 in May 2016 (8,000 more arrived after more fighting in July), and almost 600,000 people are displaced in this part of South Sudan alone.

"The increase of the population has put enormous strain on existing medical and humanitarian resources"

The increase of the population has put enormous strain on existing medical and humanitarian resources. Since the beginning of this year, Médecins Sans Frontières has significantly scaled up its medical operations, opening a new emergency room and child health wards for nutrition and other illnesses. The medical team has hired and trained more than 120 community health workers to monitor the health status of the population. Five days a week they go to the camp, meet with the displaced people, identify people in need, and refer them to the hospital.

Médecins Sans Frontières has also expanded the bed capacity of its hospital from 60 beds initially to more than 180 beds as of June 2016. It is the only hospital providing secondary health care for the inhabitants of the camp who can access the 24 hour emergency room, surgery and inpatient department. The medical team also provides maternal care, obstetrics, neonatal ward and services to victims of sexual violence, and has created an inpatient therapeutic feeding centre for malnourished children. As a result of other concurrent outbreaks of infectious diseases, Médecins Sans Frontières also operates two isolation wards for patients with suspected hepatitis E and measles. The medical team also started testing suspected tuberculosis cases. Médecins Sans Frontières operations in Bentiu are supported by more than 29 international staff and 450 South Sudanese staff.