Conflict In South Sudan Exacerbates Health Care Burden

Inter-communal clashes in South Sudan left 60 dead and many more injured and displaced. ForAfrika’s clinic staff stepped up to the task and took on emergency cases 

The devastating effects of inter-communal conflict in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area in South Sudan are still being felt a month later. Families, already suffering from many years of political instability, flooding, hunger and poor social services, were forced to flee when armed youths set their homes alight and raided their cattle in December.

According to the United Nations, almost 60 people lost their lives, many more were injured.

Some walked two days to find help in Pibor town.

It is estimated that at least 17,000 people have been displaced with the majority being women, children and the elderly. They are being housed in schools, abandoned infrastructure or in the homes of kind strangers. Some have to make do with sheltering under the few surrounding trees.

Patients wait to be attended to at the PHCC

Very little food and water is available; there is fear that disease could spread.

The continent’s largest non-governmental organisation, ForAfrika, has been in the Pibor area for many years offering nutritional programming. It has extended its health services and took over the management of the only primary health care centre (PHCC) in the town just a few days before the violence erupted.

“It was the ultimate test for me and the team,” said Dr Waleed Michael, ForAfrika’s medical doctor in charge of the centre.

“ForAfrika responded to the call by the UN and the South Sudan government to mobilise resources and provide immediate lifesaving support.”

Humanitarian efforts are already stretched in this seemingly forsaken country. Pibor is currently inaccessible by road, due to insecurity and waterlogging. It is hoped they will be dry by the end of February so that more supplies can be delivered. 

“We are grossly understocked. Mothers are delivering under very tough conditions at the ward. They have to endure the pain through the delivery and after,” said nurse Lillian Achirochan, who safely delivered five babies, including twins, in her first week at work.

“Another major challenge is that there’s barely any food for them to eat. This threatens the health of the babies and mothers alike.”

Dr Michael continued: “The PHCC is the only medical facility attending to all patients with varying kinds of injuries and conditions. There’s an urgent need to equip and restock virtually everything as the number of patients attended to at the facility has more than tripled.”

ForAfrika launched an emergency response and has provided medical supplies and support, emergency food rations and therapeutic foods for malnourished children. But, more needs to be done as people have lost their homes and livelihoods. Four of ForAfrika’s nutrition clinics were badly damaged during the conflict.

“The current emergency only exacerbates the already high demand for services,” says Basilio Okello, ForAfrika’s Director of Programmes in South Sudan.

South Sudan continues to be plagued by political insecurity and communal clashes over cattle and land as well as experiencing the most severe flooding in 60 years. The UN estimates that 9.4-million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2023.

ForAfrika will be on the ground to assist wherever possible. 

ForAfrika is the largest indigenous humanitarian aid and development organisation working for an Africa that thrives. Partnering intimately with communities, ForAfrika designs programmes that fight hunger, malnutrition, poverty and barriers to education and which lead to equitable development and transformation.

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