South Sudan: Country in Crisis

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donating to our South Sudan Emergency Appeal today

South Sudan Emergency Appeal

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South Sudan Crisis

The conflict that erupted on 15th December 2013 in South Sudan has led to the destruction of medical and other civilian structures. More than a million people are displaced within the country, with another 200,000 seeking refuge in countries bordering South Sudan.

The fighting rendered many of the existing health facilities non-functional with no medical supplies or human resources to offer as medical staff fled for their lives, leaving populations without access to health facilities or anyone to respond to their basic needs. 

During the conflict, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has had to relocate services to pre-existing facilities which have become overstretched. We have built tented hospitals, worked under temporary shelters and set up inflatable hospitals. With over 3,500 local and international staff working in the country, we have set up emergency projects to respond to the growing needs of people directly affected by the crisis.

Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states are the most affected areas in South Sudan since the fighting started. As a result, we increased our operations in these states by starting new emergency projects and providing non-food items - such as mosquito nets and blankets - as well as water and sanitation support. Our teams are also carrying out outreach activities, assessments and monitoring people’s health needs across the country.

  • We currently run more than 22 projects in nine of South Sudan's 10 states.
  • Since 15th December 2013 we have carried out 330,679 consultations (41 percent of which were for children under five), admitted 14,601 patients into our hospitals (of whom 57 percent were children under five), treated 2,951 war wounded and carried out 2,538 surgeries. We have also delivered 8,320 children
  • We currently have more than 3,500 international and local MSF staff working in the country. In addition, 76 expatriates provide support to MSF's operations in South Sudan from neighbouring countries (such as EthiopiaKenya and Uganda).

Read the full crisis update

South Sudan crisis map, June 2014

Latest news in-depth:

Our work 

Background 2013

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

Escalating violence in South Sudan increased the need for emergency medical aid as the year progressed.  

During clashes between the government and militia in Jonglei state in April, staff and patients at Pibor hospital were subjected to threats and intimidation and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was forced to suspend activities.

In May, the hospital was looted and severely damaged, and fighting in the area caused Pibor residents to flee into the bush or hide in malaria-infested swamps without access to safe water or food.

Emergency healthcare in Pibor and Gumuruk

As the MSF hospital was the only one in the county, 100,000 people were deprived of healthcare. Thousands of people emerged 40 kilometres away to attend MSF’s small clinic in Gumuruk village, where teams carried out over 100 consultations per day for patients suffering from pneumonia, respiratory diseases, malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition.

During the first few weeks, a team set up a surgical unit at Gumuruk and performed 49 surgical procedures. To address the needs of the displaced people, a second clinic was opened in Dorein, south of Pibor town, and a helicopter was used to run mobile clinics in the bush in Pibor county.

More than 26,500 consultations were provided across Pibor county over a six-month period. The team also conducted 1,468 antenatal consultations and offered mental health support through individual and group sessions.

Violence in Juba

On 15th December, fighting broke out in Juba between different army factions and violence spilled onto the streets. Some 40,000 people fearing for their lives sought refuge in two UN compounds, where MSF set up clinics and provided 1,890 health consultations.

A high number of people were treated for acute diarrhoea, a direct result of poor water and sanitation. MSF also provided drugs and medical supplies to the Juba Teaching Hospital.

Fighting spread quickly through several states causing displacement, and 70,000 people, mostly women and children, fled the capital of Jonglei state, Bor, for Awerial, Lakes state.

A flooded area of Tomping camp for people displaced from their homes due to the violence in Juba, the capital of South Sudan

Refugee assistance

In Yida camp, Unity state, MSF provided basic and specialist healthcare, ran nutrition centres and helped ensure adequate water and sanitation for 70,000 Sudanese refugees.

Teams delivered the same services to more than 110,000 refugees across four camps in Maban county, Upper Nile state. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, MSF staff vaccinated 132,500 people against cholera in the camps and the surrounding area.

Teams began providing Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan with basic and specialist healthcare in Pamat, northern Bahr El Ghazal, in February.

In October, staff in Upper Nile state offered medical and nutritional assistance to around 5,000 refugees in Fashoda, and carried out surgery and post-operative care at the hospital in Malakal.

Basic and specialist health services

MSF teams continued to offer a full range of services at clinics and hospitals throughout the country, including surgery, maternal and child healthcare, vaccinations, emergency obstetric services and treatment for malnutrition, kala azar, HIV and tuberculosis (TB). They also responded to outbreaks of disease.

In Jonglei state, more than 71,000 outpatient consultations were provided among a full spectrum of services at the Lankien hospital and an outreach clinic in Yuai.

Further south, in Bor, 177 patients received emergency care from MSF at the Ministry of Health hospital during the violence that broke out in July and August.

The Nasir hospital, Upper Nile state, provided a full range of basic and specialist services including HIV and TB treatment, and cared for patients referred from surrounding counties and the border areas of Ethiopia.

In Bentiu, Unity state, MSF handed over a nutrition programme to the health ministry in February and opened a project to treat people with TB and HIV in the town and the surrounding area.

In Leer, also in Unity state, MSF offered basic and specialist healthcare. More than 68,000 outpatient consultations took place; 13,394 of these were for patients with malaria. MSF also performed 336 surgical interventions.

Dr Kim from South Korea does rounds in the intensive therapeutic feeding centre in MSF's hospital in Agok.

Healthcare in remote regions

Health services are offered to residents, internally displaced people and nomads in Agok, 40 kilometres from the city of Abyei. MSF runs the only hospital in the area, providing comprehensive services including HIV and TB care.

MSF constructed a new maternity ward in September to accommodate the high number of premature and low birth weight babies. Staff operated mobile clinics to ensure people in remote regions could access basic and maternal healthcare and referrals.

Around-the-clock care is available for children up to the age of 15 at Aweil civil hospital, Northern Bahr El Ghazal. Services include intensive care, surgery, treatment of burn victims, and neonatal, tetanus and isolation units.

The hospital also has an inpatient maternity department. Staff assisted more than 6,100 births and admitted over 4,600 children to hospital this year.


In November and December, MSF provided fistula surgery to 55 women. Fistulas, a consequence of birth complications, cause not only pain but incontinence, which in turn often leads to social exclusion and sometimes rejection by friends and family.

The team also ran mobile clinics, treating large numbers of people with malaria, respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea.

At Yambio hospital, Western Equatoria state, MSF reinforced its support to the Ministry of Health’s HIV programme by recruiting, training and deploying key technical staff to deliver comprehensive HIV care for HIV-exposed children and adults, including pregnant women.

In November and December, more than 41,000 children were vaccinated against measles in Lakes state.

At the end of 2012, MSF had 2,415 staff in South Sudan. MSF has been working in the area that is now South Sudan since 1983.

Help us continue our lifesaving work by
donating to our South Sudan Emergency Appeal today

South Sudan Emergency Appeal

Or call 0800 408 3897

Patient story

Priscilla* was among the first wave of refugees to arrive in Maban county from Sudan.

There is hunger here because there is not enough food. It’s even worse if children are sick because they are malnourished. There is water, but just not enough for all these people. Surviving in this camp is not easy.

We fled the first fighting, still in the rainy season. Along the way, we were moving, but we could not race. It took us over two weeks to escape. We drank water from rivers. Many people got sick along the way, especially from malaria. As we fled, we passed through villages that were half empty. Some had already left, but others came with us when they saw us running.

Once we arrived at the border crossing-point, we felt safe. We stayed there two or three weeks. For the first time, people started to feel the pains they had not felt so far because they were so concentrated on running and saving their lives.

*The patient’s name has been changed.

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