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Impact of conflict on civilians is striking -MSF President

By Jale Richard

The International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dr. Joann Liu, said the scale of the impact of the conflict on civilians in the country is striking because civilians are losing hope due to the conflict.

“It is striking how much the civilians are paying the price in the conflict,” said Dr. Liu.  “What is striking when you come to South Sudan is the scale of the impact on civilians. 2 million people are displaced, 2 other million have fled the country, and one in three people is displaced.”

Dr. Liu had visited MSF project sites in Malakal and Aburoch in the last week where MSF is providing lifesaving assistance to those affected by the conflict. She said the civilians are the constant losers to the conflict. “They have lost their family members, children, homes, lands, and they are living in a mud somewhere,” said Liu.

She said in Malakal and Aburoch, “people have lost hope because they have moved four times over the last few months and then started life again from scratch.”

Over the last 15 months, 24 MSF medical facilities including mobile clinics and ambulances were attacked in Pibor, Leer, Kodok, and other places.

Dr. Liu appeals for protection of civilians and their property during conflicts. “All parties to the conflict must respect and protect the civilians and their communities,” she said. “People must have and must be allowed to access health care and saving services and assistance. Medical facilities must be protected, in the conflict all parties must restrain from looting and damaging medical facilities because that is the life line in conflict times.”

She said despite the difficulty facing the medical charity group, MSF will continue supporting the people of South Sudan, but need access in order to save the lives of people caught in conflicts.

The MSF President said the number of people asking for mental support from MSF clinics is increasing because of loss of hope and loss of future. “This is a reflection of the violence that is happening, and it is depriving people of access to health care when they needed the most,” she said.

“It is not because brutal violence is happening; people are right now trying to escape the cycle of violence. What is going on right now is that it is not sparing the civilians and the civilian structures,” she said.

Dr. Liu said the people she visited told her they have been moving around from one spot to another over the last few months.

“Staring all over again from scratch has been the story of people, and they start all over again with nothing. They go and live in conditions in either camps in the mud with very little to live on, that is their life. Live in the, mud,” she said.

She said MSF is committed to working in the country to offer health care access to the civilians even with the difficult situation.

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