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LEER - 19 Apr 2022

MSF staff member among dozens killed in Leer violence

An employee of the medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was among dozens of civilians killed in the latest violence in Leer County of Unity State, the group said on Tuesday.

Peter Mathor Tap had been working with MSF in Leer since 2007, initially as Senior Department Supervisor at the former MSF hospital, and more recently as a Nursing Care Provider in one of MSF’s Community Based Health Care (CBHC) facilities.

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.

In a statement extended to Radio Tamazuj, MSF said during the fighting on the 10th of April, Peter was shot and killed while he was off duty.

“We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the tragic death of our colleague Peter. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” said Federica Franco, MSF Head of Mission for South Sudan. “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.”

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

The medical group further said its clinic in Leer town has received more than 25 gunshots wounded, as well as several other trauma victims, including survivors of sexual violence since the latest fighting began.

The organization revealed that initial assessments reported 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,” MSF said.

Earlier this month, numerous villages south of Leer town were looted and burnt. These latest violent attacks were reportedly launched by armed groups suspected to be from neighbouring communities.