South Sudan: Attacks on health facilities increasing, report says

article-img

A new report published by the New York-based Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict says attacks on medical facilities and staff in South Sudan are on the rise.

The report is based on almost 100 interviews with witnesses in the Greater Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria regions. Its findings implicate both government and opposition troops in attacks on medical facilities and blocking humanitarian aid.

Attacks on medical facilities, aid blocked

According to its findings, at least 50 medical institutions were attacked by government and opposition forces in 2016 and 2017. During the same period, at least 750 incidences of humanitarian aid being blocked by various armed groups, including government troops.

The government has repeatedly been accused of preventing humanitarian aid from reaching people in war-torn South Sudan.

Christine Monaghan, a research officer with the Watchlist, told The Associated Press that she has never seen medical facilities and aid groups targeted as aggressively as in South Sudan.

“I have never seen anything like what I saw in South Sudan. Parties to the conflict are attacking health care and regularly denying humanitarian access in tandem. The result has been man-made public health crises such as cholera and famine and the most vulnerable, children, are the most impacted.”

Human rights abuses rife

The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict is merely the latest of many organisations to publish findings on the grave human rights abuses taking place in South Sudan. With the conflict now in its fifth year, the impact on people’s lives is widespread and tens of thousands have been killed. Millions have also been displaced due to the spread of violence and parts of the country are suffering from extreme food shortages.

Amnesty International has accused the government and rebel groups of using food as a weapon of war against the people.

“Homes, schools, medical facilities and humanitarian organizations’ compounds have been looted, vandalized and burnt to the ground. And food is being used as a weapon of war.”

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, spoke of horrific rights abuses upon her return from  South Sudan last year.

“Men, women and children have been shot, hacked to death with machetes and burnt alive in their homes. Women and girls have been gang-raped and abducted.”

Featured image: By Jason Patinkin (VOA) – http://www.voanews.com/a/government-soldiers-leave-juba-before-rebel-leaders-return/3286194.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56846864

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.