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Aiding the displaced in South Sudan

Asumpta Lattus / guJanuary 30, 2014

Doctors Without Borders has been providing medical care for South Sudanese displaced by the fighting. Nurse Ines Hake tells DW what it is like to work in the country in a time of conflict.

Nurse Ines Hake is treating a young boy in South Sudan
Image: Ines Hake/Ärzte ohne Grenzen

DW: What were the main challenges you faced?

Ines Hake: The main challenge is that not all people have access to medical care, and providing care in insecure areas is a daily challenge. It takes a lot of time to figure out what work you can do and where you can do it.

There were Dinkas and Nuer together. Were there some difficult moments that you had to deal with?

Principally, we don't have difficulties. We are respected by all parties, as we give care for all, but it's certainly difficult for one ethnic group to go to an area where the other ethnic group is being treated. But we try to calm the situation down, or we try to evacuate patients to a safer place, for example.

Did Doctors Without Borders get the access they needed to treat casualties?

Often yes, but sometimes, because of the insecurity, we have to evacuate for a short period until it's safe again, and then we go back. But we try to speak with all parties to gain access as soon as the situation is stable enough, to ensure safety for international and national staff to do their work.

Working in situations like this you have lots of experiences. I'm just wondering, what was the most beautiful experience you had while working there in South Sudan?

The most beautiful was outside this conflict, when we delivered triplets. That was amazing. But during this conflict, when you see especially the children, who have suffered after having fled and not having enough food or who come down with a really strong malaria or diarrhea and are so unstable – when you see them sit up and eat again and smile again – that's an amazing situation.

Can you tell us a little bit about these triplets?

We don't have an ultrasound in the field, so we didn't know they were triplets. We knew that it would be twins, but then after more than eight hours under labor, the woman had three pretty little girls who were all healthy. And the surrounding community supported this family very much.

Did you have bad experiences as well?

Sure. A lot.

Could you tell us about one?

A man, not more than 20 years old, who came with a gunshot injury and loses his leg because of this injury and is disabled for the rest of his life - that, for example, was really bad.

Ines Hake is a nurse with the aid group Doctors Without Borders, who worked in South Sudan during the fighting.

Interview: Asumpta Lattus