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South Sudan

Why are we there?    

  • Armed conflict    
  • Endemic/epidemic disease  
  • Healthcare exclusion

Our Work 


  • Throughout 2014, Médecins Sans Frontiéres responded to emergency medical needs arising from conflict while striving to maintain its pre-existing, essential healthcare programmes in South Sudan.
  • When fighting broke out in the capital Juba at the end of 2013 and rapidly spread throughout the country, Médecins Sans Frontiéres started dispatching medical supplies and staff to critically affected locations. An estimated 1.5 million people remained internally displaced by the end of 2014.
  • Since the beginning of the crisis in South Sudan, Médecins Sans Frontiéres has called on all parties to respect the integrity of medical facilities, and to allow aid organisations to access affected communities.
  • In January 2014, there was heavy fighting in the town of Leer, southern Unity state, and the Médecins Sans Frontiéres-supported hospital was looted and set alight. The provision of outpatient and inpatient care for children and adults, surgery, maternity services, treatment for HIV and tuberculosis (TB) and intensive care was interrupted for several months.
  • Medical care has come under attack time and again in South Sudan, with patients shot in their beds, wards burned to the ground and medical equipment stolen. Hundreds of thousands of people have been denied lifesaving assistance because of these acts.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres staff witnessed the gruesome aftermath of armed attacks and clashes in Malakal in Upper Nile state, when they discovered patients murdered inside the town’s teaching hospital. After fighting in Bentiu in April, people who had been seeking shelter inside the hospital were killed on the grounds.



  • To escape the violence in Juba, tens of thousands of people sought refuge in UN compounds, where Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites were designated.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres set up medical facilities in the Tomping and Juba House PoC sites, but spoke out about the deplorable living conditions there, and in other PoC sites in the country, throughout the year. With the gradual stabilisation of medical needs, and as other organisations increased their activities, Médecins Sans Frontiéres' medical projects in the Juba PoC sites were handed over to the International Medical Corps, South Sudan Red Cross and Health Link South Sudan in August.


Unity state

  • The rapidly worsening security situation in January forced the evacuation of international staff from Bentiu. In April, Médecins Sans Frontiéres was forced to stop providing TB and HIV care in the hospital because of increased violence.
  • At the PoC site, Médecins Sans Frontiéres maintained a 24-hour emergency room and provided more than 10,000 outpatient consultations, treated nearly 1,000 children for severe malnutrition and performed 300 emergency surgical interventions, 83 per cent of which were conflict-related – mostly gunshot wounds.
  • Tens of thousands of children were vaccinated against measles inside and outside the PoC.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres ran mobile clinics and set up both a general and an antenatal clinic for people outside the site.
  • Another team maintained a programme of comprehensive medical services for some 70,000 Sudanese refugees at Yida camp, and undertook a pneumococcal vaccination campaign – the first ever in a refugee setting. Some 10,000 children under the age of two were vaccinated.
  • In Leer, the international Médecins Sans Frontiéres team was evacuated in January due to increased insecurity. Shortly afterwards, 240 South Sudanese Médecins Sans Frontiéres hospital staff were forced to escape into the bush with their families and some of the most severely injured patients.
  • By mid-April, the local population had begun to return to the town and in May medical activities resumed. By this time malnutrition in the area had reached crisis levels, and during May and June Médecins Sans Frontiéres treated more patients for malnutrition than in all of 2013.


Jonglei state

  • Some 70,000 people fled the town of Bor as a result of violence and the state hospital was ransacked. In April, a Médecins Sans Frontiéres team helped the health ministry repair the hospital and resume basic medical activities. A team also treated people wounded during an attack at Bor airport.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres had long supported Lankien hospital, and in 2014 began emergency surgery to treat the increasing number of war wounded.
  • There was also a massive outbreak of kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) and more than 6,000 patients were treated.
  • Insecurity in Pibor in 2013 caused Médecins Sans Frontiéres to withdraw from a fixed health centre and operate instead through mobile clinics. By July 2014, the situation had stabilised and Médecins Sans Frontiéres resumed activities in Pibor town, including basic health consultations, inpatient services and maternity care.
  • Teams also offered healthcare in nearby Gumuruk, Lekwongole and Old Fangak, areas regularly affected by the war.


Upper Nile state

  • In a pre-existing project at Nasir hospital, a monthly average of 4,100 consultations were carried out until heavy fighting broke out nearby. The town’s population fled and the hospital was evacuated in May.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres staff visiting in June found the hospital completely looted and the town deserted. They had no way of knowing the whereabouts or the health status of those who had fled.
  • Due to mounting insecurity, Médecins Sans Frontiéres had to stop working in the Malakal public hospital in April and rapidly opened a clinic in the PoC where 20,000 people were sheltering. In Melut, teams provided medical care to those people displaced by violence, which included treating them for kala azar and TB.
  • As the health situation in the refugee camps stabilised over the year, Médecins Sans Frontiéres reduced its number of outpatient clinics.


Lakes state

  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres provided basic and specialist healthcare, including vaccinations, in Minkamman camp, Awerial. Around 95,000 displaced people live in the camp, and more have settled in the surrounding areas.
  • Teams launched vaccination campaigns against measles, polio, cholera and meningitis.
  • Following a measles outbreak in Cueibet county in late March, Médecins Sans Frontiéres provided support to the health ministry and organised a vaccination campaign against measles and polio.


Northern Bahr El Ghazal state

  • In Pamat, close to the border with Sudan, Médecins Sans Frontiéres continued to offer basic and specialist medical care to people displaced by conflict. Staff distributed relief items and provided health consultations to new arrivals in December.
  • Since 2008, Médecins Sans Frontiéres has supported Aweil civil hospital, with around-the-clock paediatric and maternity services, including high-risk and emergency obstetric care.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres has also supported Yambio state hospital in Western Equatoria state since 2008, with specialist paediatric and antenatal care, surgery and treatment for HIV.
  • In Warrap state, Médecins Sans Frontiéres runs a small hospital in Gogrial town providing basic and specialist care, including an operating theatre for emergency surgery.



  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres continued to work in Agok, 40 kilometres south of Abyei, an area contested by Sudan and South Sudan. In the only hospital providing specialist services in the region, teams offered inpatient care, emergency surgery, maternity services and an inpatient therapeutic feeding centre.
  • Early in the year a triage area and emergency room were also opened.
  • In February, the mobile clinics run by Médecins Sans Frontiéres ceased due to security concerns, and in March outpatient services were handed over to the NGO GOAL.


Cholera emergency response

  • On 15 May, the health ministry declared a cholera outbreak in Juba.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres opened and ran five cholera treatment centres and three oral rehydration points, and provided technical assistance at Juba teaching hospital.
  • Médecins Sans Frontiéres also responded to small outbreaks in Torit, Eastern Equatoria state, and in Malakal and Wau Shilluk, Upper Nile state. 


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Médecins Sans Frontiéres has been working in the area that is now South Sudan since 1983 and at the end of 2014, Médecins Sans Frontiéres had 3,996 staff in South Sudan.