Dozens of people were killed and wounded, including MSF volunteers who run at a healthcare center, during the outbreak of violence last weekend between the communities of Pieri in South Sudan.
The clashes forced people to flee into the woods and neighboring villages. During the hostilities, that lasted the entire weekend, some of the villages in the area were burned down and many houses were looted. Over 50 wounded were taken to the MSF hospital in Lankein, about 50 kilometers north of Pieri, where they are currently undergoing treatment. With the start of the rainy season, the displaced population finds itself without shelter and is even more exposed to diseases like malaria and the added complexity of the COVID-19 spreading throughout the entire country.
“We express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of our staff member and all those affected. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the outrageous acts of intercommunal violence that has left dozens of people seriously wounded, and we fear many more deaths,” said Steve MacKay, MSF Deputy Head of Mission in South Sudan.
There have been several episodes of violence in the last few months in Jonglei State. Two months ago, in mid-March, the MSF healthcare center in Pieri received 68 wounded in less than 12 hours, many of which were in critical condition.
“The recurring episodes of intercommunal violence continue to have devastating consequences for the population,” said MacKay. “We have seen many times that this kind of attack can cause the displacement and loss of livelihoods for hundreds or even thousands of people,” said MacKay.
“Now that the rainy season is starting, people without proper shelter are even more exposed to diseases like malaria, respiratory tract infections and acute watery diarrhoea that kills thousands every year,” said MacKay. “All this without taking into account the added complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic has started to spread across the country.”
As a result of this act of violence, MSF was forced to suspend medical activities in Pieri temporarily until it receives reassurances for the safety of its staff. MSF continues to provide lifesaving medical care to the population of Pieri and Jonglei State.