London, 9 December 2013 – Health facilities have been affected in the most recent wave of violence in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic (CAR), which began on 5 December. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls on all parties involved in the current conflict in CAR to allow the wounded and ill to safely obtain the critical medical care they need. MSF calls for an end to violence against patients, civilians and medical staff working in health care facilities in Bangui and throughout the country.
Last week, staff and patients at Hôpital de l’Amitié in Bangui witnessed summary executions carried out by armed men inside the hospital. “On Thursday, our teams saw a dozen corpses lying in front of the hospital,” says Rosa Crestani, MSF emergency coordinator.
Staff at the hospital no longer wish to work there because they feel unsafe; though the facility is no longer operating, a number of patients remain. Some members of hospital staff have gone to work Bangui’s Hôpital Communautaire, where a number of wounded people have been transferred for treatment.
The situation at the Hôpital Communautaire is also very tense. Patients, MSF staff and Ministry of Health employees have been pressured and threatened. Our teams have had to step between armed men and patients on several occasions.
“We are continuing our work, but this violence inside the community hospital is unacceptable and constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law. It has an obvious impact on medical treatment, slowing the delivery of care and leading hospital staff to temporarily leave their posts,” says Thomas Curbillon, MSF head of mission. “In addition, the violence means that many wounded patients will probably not try to get to medical facilities. Aid deployment as we define it – neutral, impartial and independent – cannot be provided in the face of threats and violence.”
MSF emphasises that all parties to the conflict in CAR – in Bangui and throughout the country – must respect civilians and medical facilities and must allow the wounded and ill to be treated without discrimination. MSF calls for a ban on any armed presence in health care facilities and a halt to attacks and threats on patients and medical workers, both Central African and expatriate. MSF is an international medical organisation that operates independently of any authority. MSF’s only objective is to meet people’s medical and humanitarian needs.