MSF condemns killing of staffer in Leer conflict

The Head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Mission in South Sudan Federica Franco has strongly condemned the killing of staff member Peter Mathor Tap in the latest violence in Leer county of Unity state.

In a statement extended to Juba Echo, the head of Mission said “We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the tragic death of our colleague Peter. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”

“We strongly condemn the indiscriminate violence being carried out by armed groups that have killed and injured many innocent civilians in Leer, including those most vulnerable, such as children, elderly and persons with disabilities,” Franco added.

According to MSF, this is the second MSF staff member that has been killed in Leer due to extreme violence since December 2021.

Peter Mathor Tap had been working with MSF in Leer since 2007, initially as Senior Department Supervisor at the former MSF hospital (which was destroyed twice during the civil war, once in 2014 and again in 2015), and more recently as a Nursing Care Provider in one of MSF’s Community Based Health Care (CBHC) facilities.

During the fighting on the 10th of April, Peter was shot and killed while he was off duty. As a child, Peter had suffered from polio, which left him with a disability and required him to use a stick to walk. This affected Peter’s ability to run away when the armed aggressors reached the area where he lived.

“The level of atrocities witnessed, the persisting fear of being attacked, and the widespread destruction of medical facilities are severely affecting access to healthcare and even health-seeking behaviours, as people are reluctant to travel to search for treatment,” shared Federica Franco.

“Thousands of people displaced are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and medical care. We call on all armed groups to respect international humanitarian law and immediately cease targeting civilians and health facilities.”

Since the latest fighting began, the MSF clinic in Leer town has received more than 30 gunshots wounded, as well as several other trauma victims, including survivors of sexual violence. With the insecurity resulting in the evacuation of several humanitarian organizations in Leer, the MSF clinic has remained one of the few fully functioning healthcare facilities in the entire county, and the only facility providing advanced emergency care.

Initial assessments report wide-scale destruction, notably in Adok, Pilleny, Thonyor and Touchria, where numerous people were killed, homes were set on fire and properties looted. As a result, thousands of people have been forcibly displaced, including MSF staff. Those displaced are too scared to return home, and with many of them having lost all their belongings, they have little to return to. Many people have sought refuge in the swamps, where they are at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea as well as malaria.

The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – South Sudan has reported that the latest violence that erupted on the 4th of April 2022 in Leer County in Unity State has resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians, including a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff member.

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