30 hours with Médecins sans frontières (MSF) teams in Abyei, South Sudan
Photojournalist Christina Simons followed the MSF team in Abyei for two days, documenting the dramatic humanitarian situation in the area and the medical activities MSF is undertaking to respond to the needs of the community
More support is needed from governments as well as humanitarian and development organisations to respond to the critical situation here in ASAA
When violence erupted in February 2022, thousands of people fled Agok, a town in the Abyei Special Administrative Area (ASAA). Many found refuge in Abyei town, roughly 65 km north of Agok. Others fled further south to several villages in Twic County in Warrap State.
In Abyei town, the humanitarian situation remains difficult due to unmet basic needs of food and shelter, compounded by the volatile and fragile security situation in the area. The living conditions are dire for both residents and newly internally displaced populations (IDPs), as access to clean water, latrines and medical care remains a challenge.
At the onset of the violence and the mass population movement, MSF temporarily relocated its operational focus from Agok, where it has worked since 2008, to Abyei. MSF teams are currently working in the AmethBek Hospital, supporting the Ministry of Health staff to provide basic medical care.
“When the people of Agok fled to Abyei and Twic we followed them to both locations. The needs of the people displaced were massive; so, we followed to where we were needed,” said Gabrielle Powers, MSF Head of Mission in South Sudan. “Our objective is to ensure access to quality healthcare for both the host and displaced communities.”
MSF teams are working in the numerous wards: from the emergency and observation room, surgical and obstetrics care, deliveries with a focus on complicated deliveries, mental health, and sexual violence, as well as supporting the hospital’s various services such as the laboratory and the blood transfusion department.
At community level, MSF is working to ensure access to healthcare for host communities by deploying outreach teams and community health workers. The host communities who welcomed the displaced people have little, if anything to spare, and the services available to them do not cover the needs of the newly arrived people.
“Due to its unresolved political status, ASAA remains underfunded and under resourced, with little international attention. More support is needed from governments as well as humanitarian and development organisations to respond to the critical situation here in ASAA,” explained Powers.
The ASAA is home to roughly 143,000 people, in addition to tens of thousands of internally displaced people.
In August 2022, photojournalist Christina Simons followed the MSF team in Abyei for two days, documenting the dramatic humanitarian situation in the area and the medical activities MSF is undertaking to respond to the needs of the community.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).