Supporting Internally Displaced Persons from Abyei in Wau, South Sudan

Supporting Internally Displaced Persons from Abyei in Wau, South Sudan

Serafina Sabino, a Medical Assistant in Wau, South Sudan (© Dr. Edward Luka)

Thousands of civilians fled from Abyei following the crisis in May, when northern forces took control over the town. The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports 50,600 people displaced from Abyei town are verified and registered and estimates the full number to be about 84,000 people. Most of the Internally displaced persons (IDPs) fled to nearby Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap States, where many humanitarian agencies are providing assistance in high displacement areas like Agok, Turalei, and Wunrock. However, many IDPs are arriving in Wau town, several hundred kilometers south of Abyei.

Many of the displaced persons arriving in Wau are settled in an old government mechanical factory, where international agencies set up to process and register displaced persons. This factory is close to the Hai Dinka Primary Health Care Center, a facility supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded, MSH-led Sudan Health Transformation Project (SHTP II).

According to John Rumunu, Chief of Party for SHTP II:

The movement of IDPs into other areas is creating a high burden on the existing health system, which is already suffering from a lack of access and availability to the population. Already the health system access only extends to 25 -30% of the population in South Sudan. Now, more people are coming and that means that this health system is becoming more stressed.

In order to meet the needs of the IDPs in the area, the SHTP II partners on the ground are working with the State Ministry of Health to support them. The Hai Dinka clinic, which usually closes early and over weekends, is now open until late in the evening and on the weekends.

The Medical Assistant working at the clinic, Serafina Sabino, said the number of persons coming to the clinic had doubled over the past week.

“I now work the whole day and see many persons from Abyei,” Serafina said. She is not worried about the added workload. The Ministry of Health provided two additional health workers to help her over the weekend. “As long I can support the IDPs from Abyei, I will continue to do my work.”

The center is also providing antenatal care and mosquito nets to pregnant women, as well as vaccinations to children. According to the SHTP II Project Director, even with the influx of IDPs, there will be enough drugs until new supplies arrive.

For Serafina, she is satisfied to be fulfilling her role as a health worker by supporting the IDPs at her clinic until they are relocated to a proper camp.

Dr. Edward Eremugo Luka, MBBS, MScIH is a Primary Health Care Advisor for the SHTP II project.