February 26, 2012

Following violent protests over the reported burning of Korans at Bagram Airbase, MSF treated 50 injured people in Kunduz.



Afghanistan 2011 © Michael Goldfarb/MSF

The MSF hospital in Kunduz.

KABUL, FEBRUARY 26, 2012—Following violent protests over the reported burning of Korans at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has received 50 people at its surgical hospital in Kunduz Province in northern Afghanistan. Many patients had suffered gunshot wounds.

Protests have been raging across Afghanistan since the Koran burnings were first reported a week ago. Demonstrations yesterday turned violent in Kunduz as protesters tried to storm the UN compound there.

“It all happened very quickly,” said Silvia Dallatomasina, MSF’s medical coordinator in Kunduz. “We saw almost 30 patients over the course of an hour when the violence first started, most of them in critical condition and needing immediate care.”

Of the 50 people who arrived at the MSF trauma hospital, 39 were admitted, the majority of whom were suffering from gunshot wounds. Three patients died. The remaining patients have been stabilized and treated or referred to the regional hospital in Kunduz. MSF surgical teams performed 14 operations throughout the day and into the night, including vascular surgical procedures and the treatment of fractures due to gunshots.

MSF has been running the surgical hospital in Kunduz since August, 2011, providing urgent surgical care and follow-up treatment for people wounded in conflict and for those suffering from life-threatening injuries. Since its opening, hundreds of people have been treated in the hospital, the only specialized surgical hospital of its kind in northern Afghanistan.

MSF teams also work in Ahmed Shah Baba Hospital in Kabul and in Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. As in Kunduz, MSF provides free medical care in both locations and works in all wards of the hospitals. MSF plans to open a maternity hospital in Khost Province in early 2012.

A strict no-weapons policy is implemented in all locations where MSF works in Afghanistan to ensure patient safety and security.

MSF relies solely on private donations to carry out its work in Afghanistan and does not accept any government funding.