Providing healthcare in a country at war
South Sudan’s brutal two-year civil war is forcing an increasing number of civilians, who are often the victims of violence, to flee their homes. Over two million people have been internally displaced or taken refuge in a neighbouring country since the start of the conflict. Present in South Sudan since 2006, Handicap International is providing humanitarian response to people caught up in the fighting, particularly in the field of health.
Injured in a tanker explosion in Maridi in September 2015, Mary was given physiotherapy by Handicap International’s team in Juba. She can now perform everyday tasks again. | © L.Vlaeminck / Handicap International
Around 50,000 families, including 7,800 people with disabilities, have benefited from the services provided by the “disability and vulnerability focal points” set up by Handicap International in January 2014. Located in the camp for displaced people in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, these small medical centres provide the most vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, with equal access to healthcare. The organisation’s teams identity people’s needs and refer them to appropriate services if necessary. They also hand out kits containing medical supplies or non-food relief items, and organise rehabilitation and psychosocial support sessions.
Handicap International has also set up a mobile emergency team of five rehabilitation and psychosocial support experts. In the event of a crisis, the team travels across the country to provide technical support and equipment to humanitarian organisations. Following the explosion of a tanker near Maridi last September, which caused 200 casualties, the team provided support to Médecins sans Frontières, Save the Children and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2015, the mobile team was called out 12 times and treated some 6,800 families.
Handicap International’s mobile emergency team has also trained some 165 humanitarian workers to provide care or treatment to people with disabilities during emergencies.