Ongoing insecurity in Central African Republic threatens lives of civilians and humanitarians, blocking urgent medical care
MSF and MSF Podcasts: Bangui - The insecurity that prevails today in northwestern Central African Republic (CAR) is having a severe impact on the civilian population and the humanitarians working to assist them.
After the violent death of our colleague Elsa Serfass on June 11, all mobile medical activities of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the region have been suspended while all hospitals remain fully operational.
Some other humanitarian organizations present in the area have followed suit, bringing assistance to this highly vulnerable population to a standstill outside the main towns.
MSF urgently calls upon all parties within CAR to respect the lives of the civilian population and to ensure that humanitarians can safely access people in need throughout this region.
For the past few months, people living in northwestern CAR have faced increasing violence and insecurity at the hands of warring parties and bandits. Villagers are fleeing into the bush after their homes have been attacked, burned and pillaged, These displaced often lack access to adequate shelter and potable water, and are vulnerable to malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhoea.
During the first five months of 2007, MSF supported health structures have performed more than 95,000 consultations. Amongst the predominant morbidities, 25,078 patients were treated for malaria, of which 15,356 were children under five years of age.
All parties are contributing to the insecurity in this region and humanitarian workers have been subjected to threats and, more recently, kidnappings. In the past five months, MSF's mobile clinics - which provide life-saving primary health care to 6,553 people per month - have been suspended 29 times due to insecurity.
If this insecurity blocks humanitarians from reaching people in need, it is just as bad, if not worse, for patients trying to reach us. People fear venturing outside their villages or hiding-places in the bush, even to access much-needed medical care.
MSF calls on all conflict parties to respect the lives and health of civilian populations in northwestern CAR, and to ensure humanitarian space for aid to reach those who need it most. If insecurity prevents humanitarian organizations from continuing their activities, the first victims will be these populations affected by violence, intimidation and displacement. It is their lives and health that continue to hang in the balance.
MSF is currently present throughout the violence-affected areas of northern CAR, providing urgently needed primary and secondary health care with a network of hospitals, health centres and mobile medical activities in and around Paoua, Boguila, Markounda, Batangafo, Kabo, Kaga Bandoro, Gordil and Birao.
MSF in CAR currently has 55 expatriates, 485 national staff and an annual budget of 7.7 million Euros.