In 2008 I was working in South Sudan June-December. On 18th September a motor cycle rider came to our base in Yambio and reported an attack on one of the clinics we supported.
Sakure village and the Médecins Sans Frontières clinic is about 20 miles from our base (but took around 2.5 hours to get there due to the terrain). The bike rider had evidence of the raid with him as his bike had taken a round in the engagement:
The rider reported multiple injuries and at least one (it turned out to be two) people killed.
The attackers were the Lords Resistance Army a Ugandan originated rebel group who had been creating chaos in the region since the late 1980’s. You can read about their goals (as confused as they are) elsewhere but in practical terms they steal property, food , medicines and people. They would terrorise populations with mutilation such as cutting off noses and lips as well as forcing children to commit atrocities in their community before they were taken to train as fighters.
The Project Coordinator organised a team to head to Sakure to help the injured in the village and assess the situation in the immediate area.
MSF do not travel with military escorts so no UN or government troops and we are of course unarmed ourselves. The organisations neutrality and continuous efforts to negotiate safe passage with all warring parties is our strategy.
we spent the next 3 hours making our way to Sakure, stopping at villages on the way to talk to locals and assess the security situation / rumours.
When we arrived in Sakure we found a number of injured and traumatised people. The man you see here (photo as always with permission) was beaten by the LRA fighters. He was forced to carry looted medical supplies and villagers property. He had a fairly minor panga (machete) injury to his abdomen and some facial swelling but was other wise lucky. I took a look at him while my colleagues assessed others and the ongoing situation.
We spent a good few hours supporting the staff at the clinic as they dealt with the patients injured in the attack. The threat of attack and insecurity has dogged these resilient people for a long time . However the suffering caused by such violence never diminishes.
This is the latest of my brief stories from the field. If you are able to help support Doctors Without Borders to care for those affected by conflict please donate to my fundraiser for the via : www.justgiving.com/fundriasing/andy-dennis