Looting of charity health center threatens medical care in South Sudan

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NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A health center operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has been damaged by looters in South Sudan, threatening medical care for residents of the violence-torn region, the charity said on Wednesday.

The medical compound in Pibor was looted during fighting on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving at least 35 people wounded and some 1,000 people seeking shelter, it said.

The raid threatened to deprive the area located in the nation's east of health care services, MSF said.

"If we cannot restart activities this could make a bad situation catastrophic," said Corinne Benazech, MSF's head of mission, in a statement.

"There are critical emergency medical needs right now in Pibor, and really limited capacity to respond and save lives," she said.

The charity said it has yet to assess the extent of the damage after its staff evacuated for the safety of at a nearby United Nations peacekeepers' compound.

A political dispute between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar two years ago sparked a civil war and renewed hostilities between Kiir's Dinka and Machar's Nuer people.

More than 10,000 people have been killed.

South Sudan's warring government and opposition have continued killing, abducting and displacing civilians and destroying property despite conciliatory rhetoric by both sides, the United Nations said last week.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit South Sudan on Thursday and hold talks with Kiir.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)