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Last week a Trócaire-supported hospital in the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan came under attack. The hospital, which provides life-saving care to 150,000 people, came under sustained aerial attack, with damage caused to the building and injuries sustained by staff and patients. Trócaire’s Filip Degrieck recently visited the Mother of Mercy hospital.
Last Thursday I learnt that the hospital Trócaire supports in the Nuba Mountains had been bombed. Having recently visited the hospital, it all felt very real, or actually very unreal. The first thing that came to mind was the little boy in the wheelchair who had just lost his right leg and right arm. I spent some time with him in the mornings and the evenings when I was in Nuba. I kept asking myself how he would have been able to scramble to safety when the bombs started falling. What about all the other kids and young babies and their mothers?
WATCH: video from Nuba reports and see the impact of the bombing on hospital patients, staff, and local residents.
People in the Nuba Mountains have to hide in foxholes when the aerial attacks start. How is a mother with a new born supposed to dive into one of those fox holes? I tried jumping in one of those pits and it nearly felt like breaking a leg. Who could order or execute such a vicious attack on sick patients, young kids and their mothers and fathers?
Before travelling to the Nuba Mountains in February, I did not know much about the tragedy of the Nuba people. When I browsed the web for some info on the hospital in Gidel, I found a gripping documentary Terror in Sudan by Aidan Hartley. What caught me immediately were the words of Sister Angelina, the hospital matron, when she said: “where is the international community? Where is the UN to say stop?” When I arrived, I understood what she meant. In Nuba, there is no international presence.
Where was the UN? Where were the international agencies? Bombs are being dropped on innocent people. Yet, the people of the Nuba Mountains suffer in silence.
The Mother of Mercy hospital, which Trócaire funds, is the only medical facility. It serves the needs of approximately 150,000 people in the region. Without support from Trócaire and other Caritas agencies, these people would have no medical care. I remember one morning during breakfast in Gidel asking Tom, the surgeon who is running the hospital, why the Sudanese Government had never targeted the hospital before. He believed that this was probably because of the international exposure such a cowardly attack would most likely give to this forgotten conflict. How wrong were we all in thinking that.
We must demand that this most terrible of humanitarian crimes gets the reaction it deserves and brings attention to the suffering of the people in the Nuba Mountains.
by Filip Degrieck, Trócaire