Calgary-trained doctors flee fighting in South Sudan

Fighting in South Sudan has forced a group of Canadian-trained doctors to take refuge in a safe house. The doctors are Sudanese refugees who trained in Cuba and Canada before returning to Sudan in 2005.

Former refugees had returned home to rebuild medical system

Dr. Mabior Nyuong Bior, left, with John Clayton of Samaritan's Purse in Sudan. (Submitted by Samaritan's Purse)

South Sudanese doctors who trained in Calgary are among the thousands who have been displaced by war in that country.

Fighting broke out in mid-December between South Sudan's two main ethnic groups.

The doctors are Sudanese refugees who trained in Cuba and Canada before returning to Sudan in 2005. 

Friends of the doctors are watching anxiously from Calgary, including Jeff Adams who works with Samaritan's Purse. 

The charity helped kick-start a special training program for Sudanese doctors at the University of Calgary.

"We have made a significant investment in them in terms of the donations from Canadian supporters and we've got a significant personal investment in them too," said Adams. "These people are our friends."

Seven of the doctors are now taking refuge at a Samaritan's Purse safe house in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.

Among them is Mabior Nyong Bior — a Canadian citizen working in the city of Bor.

He had to flee when the hospital he works at came under attack.

"It was very traumatic, because some of the people who were killed there — I know them. We work with them in hospital."

South Sudan's warring factions are expected to begin negotiations tomorrow.

Adams is hopeful they can reach an agreement.

"Our fear would be that the violence will continue and people like Mabior won't have a chance to go back to Bor hospital and continue to take care of people there that desperately need the help of people like him," he said.

South Sudan, the world's newest country, is the scene of fighting between government forces and rebels, just three years after gaining independence. The red marker shows the city of Bor. (Google Maps)