SUDAN WATCH: Security update: High-level UNAMID visit to sheikhs of Kalma, S. Darfur - MSF suspends work in Gumuruk, Jonglei State, S. Sudan

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Security update: High-level UNAMID visit to sheikhs of Kalma, S. Darfur - MSF suspends work in Gumuruk, Jonglei State, S. Sudan

ON July 30th, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) issued a statement (see below) confirming it had suspended its medical activities in Jonglei, southern Sudan due to robberies. MSF's work in other parts of the country remain open.

According to the statement, on July 1 an armed group entered MSF's Gumuruk clinic and stole boxes of the therapeutic ready-to-use food (RUTF) with which MSF treats severely malnourished children. Three days later, more RUTF was stolen along with medical equipment. Then, on July 27, four MSF staff members travelling by boat from Pibor to Gumuruk were violently robbed by armed men. Apart from a small Ministry of Health facility in Pibor town, MSF is the only primary health care provider in this part of Jonglei State, which is home to around 150,000 people, where villages are separated by large distances, and where roads are often impassable. Further details here below.

Note that the robbers seem desperate for food. I guess that if they are criminals, ie from the dreaded Ugandan terrorist group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), they would have no legitimate way of getting food and medicines. As noted here at Sudan Watch yesterday, on Thursday Sudan Radio Service (SRS) reported an LRA attack in Western Bahr el-Ghazal State. Here is a copy of the report, followed by a UNAMID briefing on the security situation at Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur, western Sudan and news headlines from around the web via The New York Times.

From SRS - Sudan Radio Service
LRA Attack Western Bahr el-Ghazal State
Thursday, 29 July 2010 - (Khartoum) – The Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA attacked Yabulu village in Western Bahr el Ghazal state last week.

The acting governor of Western Bahr el-Ghazal State and state minister of legal affairs, John Peter Miskin spoke to SRS from Wau on Wednesday and confirmed the attack.

[John Peter Miskin]: “This is not the first time that the LRA attacked Western Bahr el-Ghazal and in particular Raja County. Such an attack has been repeated several times in this part of the state and what happened exactly was that on the 23rd of this July, the LRA sneaked into the state and threatened the people in that area and killed one civilian and abducted other four civilians.

Miskin said his government will beef-up security around Wau.

[John Peter Miskin]: “Inside Wau town the situation is normal but there are arrangements to deploy more troops towards western part of Wau town which will cover up to Raja this is the area that is under threat because it is the area that is repeatedly attacked by the LRA and they are scattered in this area. That area is considered a gateway for them because they move there en route south and northwards that is why there is a high security concern for that area.”

The LRA recent activities have been concentrated in Western Equatoria state.
- - -

Darfur/UNAMID Daily Media Brief - Sunday, 01 August 2010
From United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
EL FASHER (DARFUR), western Sudan - via APO Monday, 02 August 2010:
Security situation update
The situation in Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp is currently calm but remains tense and unpredictable. UNAMID forces continue to be on high alert.

Acting Mission Chief Yonis visits South Darfur, addresses tensions in Kalma IDP camp
UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative (DJSR) and acting Chief of Mission Mohammed Yonis today made a field visit to South Darfur, where he met with the State’s Wali (Governor) and leaders of the troubled Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, where conflicts over IDP participation in the Doha peace process negotiations recently turned violent, resulting in fatalities estimated, according to different sources, at between five and eight.

DJSR Yonis was accompanied by UNAMID senior officials as well as a Government military liaison officer. Upon arriving in Nyala, Mr. Yonis met with the Wali (Governor) of South Darfur, Dr. Abdul Hammid Musa Kasha, to discuss the security situation in Kalma camp. The Wali asked for a combined effort by UNAMID and the State Government to disarm people in the camp and called for a joint committee to be formed in this regard. Dr. Kasha also asked UNAMID to help deliver the bodies of those killed this weekend to their families, as the authorities could not enter the settlement.

The Wali also took the opportunity of this high-level UNAMID visit to raise a number of issues such as a request for assistance from the Mission in infrastructure projects, notably road construction.

Mr. Yonis thanked the Wali for his Government’s support to UNAMID and pledged the Mission’s collaboration in resolving the Kalma issue, with the cooperation of local authorities and the camp’s IDP leaders (sheikhs). “UNAMID is here to help and to support the Government of the Sudan and the people of Darfur in achieving sustainable peace in the region,” he said

The delegation then travelled to Kalma camp, on the outskirts of Nyala, to meet with the camp’s sheikhs and was appraised of the most recent developments. DJSR Yonis urged the sheikhs to spare no effort to avert further violence and pave the way to reconciliation. The sheikhs in turn asked for UNAMID’s help in providing urgently needed humanitarian aid, mainly food, water and medical supplies, to the thousands of IDPs who gathered around its local Community Policing Center (CPC) over the weekend seeking security.

There are currently several thousand people with their meager possessions surrounding the CPC. Many IDPs have also left for Nyala to escape the violence.

UNAMID patrols
UNAMID military forces conducted 71 patrols including routine, short-range, long-range, night and humanitarian escort patrols covering 56 villages and IDP camps.

UNAMID police advisors conducted 80 patrols in villages and IDP camps.
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Sudan: Security Incidents Force MSF to Suspend Activities in Gumuruk
Programs in Other Parts of the Country Remain Open

From MSF - JULY 30, 2010:
Following three separate security incidents in one of its remote health care clinics, international emergency medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been forced to suspend all activities in Gumuruk, Jonglei State.

MSF is calling on all armed groups, community members, and political parties in Southern Sudan to respect the neutrality of MSF medical staff, activities and facilities so that lifesaving aid can be delivered to people urgently in need.

“Attacks on our staff and clinics prevent us from providing essential medical aid,” said Rob Mulder, MSF head of mission in Southern Sudan. “These incidents are totally unacceptable as they stop us from accessing patients and put our staff at risk.”

MSF runs a primary health care center in the town of Pibor in Jonglei State, and from there runs two smaller outreach clinics in more remote areas, Lekwongole and Gumuruk, which are only accessible by plane or boat during the current rainy season.

On July 1, an armed group entered the Gumuruk clinic and stole boxes of the therapeutic ready-to-use food (RUTF) with which MSF treats severely malnourished children. Three days later, more RUTF was stolen along with medical equipment. Then, on July 27, four MSF staff members travelling by boat from Pibor to Gumuruk were violently robbed by armed men.

“Though we are fully committed to providing emergency medical aid to Gumuruk community, we have been left with no other choice than to suspend all medical activities in our outreach clinic,” added Mulder.

The Gumuruk outreach clinic provides basic medical care, including general consultations, treatment for malnutrition, ante-natal care, and vaccinations for a population of more than 30,000 people. Complex medical cases requiring hospitalization are referred to the larger MSF clinic in Pibor; serious cases in need of surgery are evacuated from there by MSF plane to hospitals in Boma, or in the capital, Juba.

“More than 160 malnourished children were receiving treatment in our Gumuruk clinic,” said Gbane Mahama, MSF medical coordinator for Southern Sudan. These children had received rations to last them for a week, but with the staff evacuated, there is no one to continue their treatment. “In addition,” Mahama adds, “there were up to 20 new cases of severely malnourished children each week. Unless access to this community improves, it is impossible to evacuate those who need hospitalization or surgery, including women with obstructed labor or children with cerebral malaria or severe anemia who need blood transfusions.”

Apart from a small Ministry of Health facility in Pibor town, MSF is the only primary health care provider in this part of Jonglei State, which is home to around 150,000 people, where villages are separated by large distances, and where roads are often impassable.

MSF has been working in Sudan since 1979 providing free-of-charge medical assistance to people suffering from the effects of poor access to health care, floods, droughts, disease outbreaks, armed conflict and nutritional emergencies. MSF runs clinics and hospitals across 10 Sudanese states, including Warrap, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria, the transitional area of Abyei, Red Sea, Al-Gedaref and North Darfur. MSF is an independent and neutral emergency medical organization that serves all people based on impartial assessments of need, regardless of race, political, tribal or religious affiliation.

Southern Sudan: MSF forced to suspend life-saving work

MSF UK (press release) (blog) - ‎Jul 30, 2010‎
Following three separate security incidents in one of its remote healthcare clinics, international emergency medical aid organisation, Médecins Sans ...

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