South Sudanese surgeon wins UN refugee award

By Munira Abdelmenan Awel

ANKARA (AA) – A South Sudanese doctor won a UN prize for his two decades of service in war-torn areas of South Sudan, the UN human rights office announced on Tuesday.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) said in a statement that Dr. Evan Atar Adaha, the surgeon and medical doctor at the sole hospital in northeastern Maban County of Upper Nile State, was honored with the 2018 Nansen Refugee Award of UNHCR.

"The award is in recognition of Dr. Atar’s outstanding commitment and self-sacrifice in providing medical services to more than 200,000 people, including approximately 144,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile state,” UNHCR said.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, praised Atar for his work through decades of civil war and conflict as “a shining example of profound humanity and selflessness”.

“Through his tireless efforts, thousands of lives have been saved, and countless men, women, and children provided with a new chance to rebuild a future,” Grandi added.

Atar will be presented with the award on Oct. 1, in Geneva, Switzerland.

– Treating everyone regardless of who they are

Atar, 52, and his team carry out an average of 58 operations per week in tough conditions with limited supplies and equipment, according to the UNHCR.

The surgeon established his first surgical theatre in an abandoned local health center, customizing the things he finds locally to medical pieces of equipment, and trained the young citizens for nursery and midwifery.

“We treat everyone here regardless of who they are – refugee, internally displaced, host community,” Atar said.

“I am most happy when I realize that the work that I have done has saved somebody from suffering or has saved his life,” he added.

UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award honors dedications to serve the forcibly displaced.

Since 2013, South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan following a 2011 popular referendum, has remained the scene of a bloody civil war pitting government forces against armed opposition groups.

The world's youngest nation, South Sudan hosts approximately 300,000 refugees.