Amid South Sudan Violence, CARE Helping Women and Girls at Risk


As armed conflict continues in South Sudan, CARE-supported clinics are helping people in desperate need of health care. Ayuen Jooh Luala, 25-years-old and in labor with twins, managed to get from her village Wangulei to the CARE-supported health care unit in nearby Lualajokbil, where her first baby was born at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 9. But as attendants awaited the second child’s arrival, Ms. Jooh began to experience complications. In a part of South Sudan like Twic East, Jonglei--one of the most conflict-affected states in South Sudan—the delivery could have ended badly.

“We came across this mother while doing a supervision visit to the health unit in Lualajokbil,” CARE staffer John Chol said. “She developed serious fits as well as bleeding.”

Ms. Jooh was transferred to the larger Primary Healthcare Clinic in Panyagor, Jonglei, which is 30 minutes away but better staffed and supplied. Thanks to health workers there, the second twin—a boy--was born several hours after his older brother.

The mother “is now doing fine in our postnatal ward with her two boys,” Mr. Chol said.

The healthy outcome for Ms. Jooh and her two newborns is a rare happy ending amid violence that has taken more than 1,000 lives in South Sudan since December 15. The conflict has brought more pain for a population already traumatized from almost half a century of fighting for independence. 

“It is likely that many of the women going into labor in areas where there is conflict are not able to access hospitals or clinics because of the violence. They are giving birth without any support,” said Aimee Ansari, Country Director for CARE in South Sudan. “We are concerned that the insecurity, which has now alarmingly spread across the country, makes it even more difficult for women to access health care services, putting mothers and children at even greater risk.”

At the CARE-supported clinic in Panyagor, located about 108 kms north of Jonglei’s state capital, Bor, County Health Director James Magok said only women with the most serious cases were braving the insecurity to access medical care. 

Even before the current crisis, South Sudan had one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. 

“South Sudan is one of the most hostile environments for women and girls,” says Ansari. “The current situation is putting them at even greater risk of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. Women who are displaced as a result of fleeing conflict lose the protection of their homes and families. They are very vulnerable and need our help.”   

Written by Dan Alder

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