South Sudan: People shelter from violence in MSF compound in Leer

16 Mar 2016
Related Countries
South Sudan

The population in Leer, South Sudan, continues to live in fear of rape, looting and violence after at least four incidents were recorded in March.

In the most recent incident on 14 March, 27 civilians – mostly women and children - fled to the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) compound seeking shelter as their houses were looted by a group of men carrying guns.

“Screams coming from village”

“In the evening of 14 March, the MSF teams could hear screaming coming from the village. Then, suddenly, the MSF teams saw civilians running in our direction.

“They were running for their lives and they feel as though there is no one to turn to, so they take shelter with MSF,” says Jens Pagotto, MSF emergency coordinator in Leer county.

In other recent incidents of armed looting recorded earlier in March, at least one person was killed, at least two women were raped and one patient was brought to the MSF Hospital in Leer to be treated for a gunshot wound to the abdomen.  


This photo was taken by @DominicNahr for MSF in December last year. Thousands of South Sudanese from Unity state wait in line for a distribution in the otherwise empty and destroyed town of Leer. All humanitarian groups, including MSF, evacuated Leer amid heavy fighting in May 2015 as thousands of civilians were forced to flee into the bush, swamps or into the UN Protection of Civilian site in Bentiu. However, MSF was able to resume limited operations from Leer in July 2015, conducting mobile clinics and therapeutic feeding programmes until MSF’s compound was once again looted in October. MSF has been looted three times in Leer since conflict erupted. © Dominic Nahr #MSF #DoctorsWithoutBorders #SouthSudan #Leer  #Unity #aerial #distribution #queue #line

A photo posted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (@doctorswithoutborders) on

Desperate security situation

“The security situation for the people living in Leer remains desperate, with increasingly regular instances of armed robbery, violent attacks and sexual violence against women,” says Pagotto.

MSF asks the local authorities to take immediate action to ensure protection of civilians in Leer and other conflict affected areas of South Sudan.

MSF in Leer, South Sudan

MSF has been providing humanitarian and medical assistance in Leer for over 25 years. In the first two months of 2016, MSF provided medical assistance to nearly 13,000 patients in Leer and Thonyor, including 73 for violence-related injuries.

Find out more about MSF in South Sudan