2014 in review
Médecins Sans Frontières’ teams were quick to respond to people’s needs in South Sudan after the onset of fighting in Juba in December 2013. The organization immediately started dispatching medical supplies and personnel to launch emergency response activities in critically affected locations. From 13 regular projects, MSF’s activities soon expanded to more than 20 projects in 9 states, to provide free healthcare to the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict.
During the year, our teams witnessed violent attacks on medical structures, personnel and patients. Several of our medical structures were looted or completely destroyed. MSF teams had to temporarily withdraw from some conflict locations for their own safety, but always sought to return as soon as possible to maintain a lifeline of medical care.
One year on, it’s estimated that 1.5 million people have been displaced inside South Sudan and another 500,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
MSF provided medical care in four protection of civilians sites (PoCs) where tens of thousands of people fled, as well as in large unofficial displacement sites such as Mingkaman camp in Lakes State. But many more who fled to the bush in search of safety remained out of reach of emergency assistance despites MSF’s attempts by land, air and river to reach some of these remote areas. The real toll of violence and disease in South Sudan in 2014 is hard to estimate.
On top of emergency care for people directly affected by the conflict, MSF teams also responded to cholera, malaria and measles epidemics, conducted several immunization campaigns, treated children affected by malnutrition, and massively scaled up kala azar response activities in the face of a huge increase in cases towards the end of the year.
Our regular medical programmes also continued, sometimes with increased activities due to the arrival of displaced people, but often strained because of the multiple emergencies the organization responded to throughout the year.
Healthcare in South Sudan was already in a precarious condition before the December 2013 violence broke out. Now the coping mechanisms of hundreds of thousands of people are stretched to breaking point, and in 2015 MSF teams will remain responsive to the most critical health needs, wherever they emerge.