NEW YORK/PARIS—After deadly attacks and threats inside hospitals in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today called on all parties to the conflict to allow the wounded and sick to safely obtain medical care, and for an end to violence and threats against patients, civilians, and medical staff throughout the country.
Summary executions were carried out by armed men inside Bangui’s Amitié Hospital on December 5, according to medical staff and patients who said they witnessed the attacks. MSF personnel observed at least 10 corpses lying in front of the hospital. The facility is no longer operating because of the violence, but several patients remain there. Meanwhile, tensions are high at Hospital Communitaire, where patients, MSF staff, and Ministry of Health employees have been threatened and pressured. MSF team members have had to step between armed men and patients on several occasions.
"We are continuing our work, but the violence inside Hospital Communautaire is unacceptable and constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law," said Thomas Curbillon, MSF head of mission in Central African Republic. "It has an obvious impact on medical treatment, slowing the delivery of care and leading hospital staff to temporarily leave their posts. In addition, the violence means that many wounded patients will probably not try to access medical facilities.”
MSF emphasizes that all parties to the conflict in the CAR—in Bangui and throughout the country—must respect the civilian population, and medical facilities must be allowed to treat the wounded and ill 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, including Central African and expatriate personnel.
“Aid deployment as we define it—neutral, impartial and independent—cannot be provided in the face of threats and violence," said Curbillon.
MSF is an international medical organization that operates independently of any government or armed group. MSF's only goal in Central African Republic is to meet the population's medical and humanitarian needs. MSF has worked in the country since 1997.