20 years of aid in the Nuba-mountains-a review

“The Nuba-mountains always were somewhat mysterious.” This is how Ruppert Neudeck, founder of Cap Anamur, starts his project report about our work in South-Sudan in his book called “ The people-rescuer of Cap Anamur”. When we built a hospital 20 years ago in this area, Sudan and South-Sudan were not yet divided and no threatening civil war was going on in the Nuba-mountains. But it was not a calm region either. Since years militia were rebelling against the government of President Al-Bashir in Chartum, which is in power since decades. The new, so called second Sudan war broke out in 2011 after South-Sudan became independent. Now the Sudan government not only fought against the rebels, but had a strategy to also attack severely the civil population.

We started our work in this region hit by civil war in 1997 in Kauda. Contrary to other countries where we provide humanitarian aid our presence was not welcome. As the people did rely on our help, we started illegally and against orders of the government. Again and again they tried to hinder our work in this area. One year after we built the hospital in Kauda in a stone building we were bombed. The government had identified the hospital which was visible good from above und thus tried to force us to stop work. But we were not intimidated. We built the next hospital at a site less visible. Here several buildings were erected one after the other, so that we could provide comprehensive medical care for the people in the Nuba-mountains. Despite our work is dangerous in this area, our employees are not afraid.

Up till now the access to the Nuba-mountains is difficult and alike the transport of medicines and goods, too. As there are no possibilities to purchase the goods needed in Sudan, everything has to be transported by plane on a semi-annual schedule and needs several days to the hospital. Medicines, construction materials and food then need to be transported to the hospital in Lwere as well as to six medical posts in the surrounding area- accordingly the orders have to be accurate and forward looking. The distribution of about 30 tons of goods is a logistical challenge: The goods are loaded on trucks and cars after three plane loads arrive at the Jida airstrip in South-Sudan. The 250 kilometers to Lwere on miserable roads and muddy streets can only be made in walking speed. In good weather conditions it takes one day, in rain season it can last as long as a week.

“The people here rely on us-today more than ever” says Johannes Plate. The male nurse is working in our project there since about four years. He has witnessed the war and gained the experience that the people who are heavily traumatized and for whom the war belongs to the day to day life trust in the employees of Cap Anamur. More than 25,000 patients are treated monthly by our team with Johannes Plate, paediatrician Kathrin Baumgartner, technician Klemens Schroeder and laboratory assistant Gladys Mumbua- a number with tendency to increase.