It is with great sadness that International Medical Corps confirms the death of a member of its staff, killed during the escalating violence in South Sudan. The staff member, a clinical health officer, was killed when a UN base in the town of Akobo, where he was seeking refuge, was overrun. The UN estimates that at least 20 civilians were killed in the attack, and two UN peacekeepers were also among those killed.
Several days of ethnic violence and political infighting have left more than 400 dead in South Sudan, according to the UN. The worst of the violence has occurred in the capital Juba and in Jonglei state.
Despite the increasing violence, International Medical Corps is continuing to deliver lifesaving services to the people of South Sudan, including maternal health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, food security, and water and sanitation. International Medical Corps has decades of experience implementing medical programs in conflict-affected environments, and as such has developed a contextually specific set of protocols to ensure the safety of International Medical Corps staff. However, the scale of the crises underway in South Sudan at present means that all non-essential staff are now being evacuated.
Core management staff remains in South Sudan to monitor the ongoing situation, maintain services to the extent possible and respond to developing needs as security allows. International Medical Corps has been delivering humanitarian assistance in the region since 1994 and supporting communities across South Sudan since independence in 2011.
President Barack Obama has warned that South Sudan “stands at the precipice” as the latest round of violence “threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past.” International Medical Corps shares the concerns of many in the humanitarian community that the ongoing and escalating conflict will have a devastating impact on civilians in South Sudan and hopes for a swift cessation of violence so that it can continue to provide relief to those who need it most.