MSF suspends activities in S Sudan over attacks on staff

14:40, August 01, 2010      

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International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Saturday it has been forced to suspend its activities in health centers in southern Sudan due to increased attacks on its staff.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, the medical charity said the development has left thousands without access to much needed medical assistance and over 160 malnourished children without emergency food. "Attacks on our staff and clinics prevent us from providing essential medical aid. These incidents are totally unacceptable as they stop us from accessing patients and put our staff at risk," said Rob Mulder, MSF Head of Mission in Southern Sudan.

The medical aid organization said it has suspended its activities in Gumuruk, Jonglei State of southern Sudan following three separate security incidents in one of its remote healthcare clinics.

It called on all armed groups, community members and political parties in southern Sudan to respect the neutrality of its medical staff, activities and facilities, so that lifesaving aid can be urgently delivered to people in need.

MSF runs a primary healthcare centre in Pibor town, Jonglei State, and from there also runs two smaller outreach clinics in more remote areas, Lekwongole and Gumuruk, which are only accessible by plane or boat during the current rainy season.

According to the medical aid organisation, an armed group entered Gumuruk clinic on July 1, stealing boxes of a therapeutic ready-to-use food needed to treat severely malnourished children.

Three days later, MSF said therapeutic food was again stolen, in addition to medical equipment and then on July 27, while travelling by boat from Pibor to Gumuruk, four MSF staff members were violently robbed by armed men.

"Though we are fully committed to providing emergency medical aid to Gumuruk community, we have been left with no other choice than to suspend all medical activities in our outreach clinic," Mulder said.

The Gumuruk outreach clinic serves a population of more than 30, 000 people, providing basic medical care, including general consultations, treatment for malnutrition, ante-natal care and vaccinations.

Source: Xinhua


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