Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treated more than 60 people on the morning of Monday, February 15, after a series of grenade explosions in several locations across Burundi's capital city of Bujumbura. This influx of wounded patients occurred just five days after two other grenade attacks wounded dozens of people, 55 of whom were treated at l’Arche, MSF’s trauma center in Bujumbura.
"We received a lot of people, including women and children, suffering from trauma wounds including open fractures, head injuries, and cuts," said MSF head of mission Efstathios Kyrousis. "It’s the second time in less than a week that we have had so many wounded patients arriving at our trauma center."
The grenades exploded in several areas of the city, mainly in market areas. Two deaths were reported. MSF launched a mass casualty plan to provide care for the wounded, treating the most serious cases first.
Staff treated 61 patients in all, including 17 women and three children. Teams also performed seven surgeries in the hours after patients began arriving; eight more are planned for the coming days.
MSF is one of the only international organizations treating wounded patients and trauma-related medical emergencies in the capital. MSF’s trauma center currently has a capacity of 43 beds and comprises an emergency room, two operating rooms, and an intensive care unit. The center will soon be scaled up to an 86-bed capacity.
MSF’s activities in Burundi are financed solely by individual contributions, and the organization does not accept funds from any government for its projects in the country. MSF treats all patients regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation.
MSF has been working in Burundi for more than 20 years and intensified its activities in Bujumbura when pre-electoral tensions began to mount in May 2015. Its services are free and available to anyone who meets the admission criteria, including all those who have experienced a violent trauma. Since the MSF center opened on July 1, 2015, 210 wounded patients have received treatment, 205 of whom required surgery.
MSF has also been responding to the mass influx of Burundian refugees in Tanzania since May 2015. Currently, there are around 130,000 refugees in Tanzania, and between 200 and 250 refugees cross the border each day. MSF is working in Nyaragusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli camps providing medical care, mental health support, and water and sanitation assistance.