June 4, 2009
CAR 2007 © Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Despite the implementation of the peace process that is to end years of conflict, various armed groups, including the Central African Republic (CAR) military and rebel groups, are still fighting in various regions in the north. In addition, confrontations between several local groups and armed bandits compound insecurity and violence in the area. Gabriel Sánchez Ibarra has just returned from the country after working one year as MSF’s general coordinator for CAR and he shares his views and experience.
The needs to be addressed are always the most basic ones because being displaced and in the forest without any infrastructure whatsoever makes you very vulnerable. The displaced themselves and the traditional authorities required that the very few organizations present in the region provide primary healthcare, shelter, kitchen utensils and food. MSF has been able to assist negotiating with the armed groups operating in the area and coordinating actions with other organizations. Independence, access to the displaced, and security conditions need to be negotiated on a day-by-day basis.
The second component consists of rapidly responding during the emergencies or crises that periodically hit the region by being reactive and trying to provide shelter or health to the people directly affected by violence, epidemics or displacements. During the peaks in violence in the past few months, both our long-term and emergency components were fully operational. Despite violence, the MSF hospitals never closed, services continued and access to heath facilities was guarantees. But some of the population was unable to approach the hospital structure freely due to fear, fighting or displacement. This is why MSF has reached out to them by travelling to the roads and the camp sites and providing them with medical consultations, or distributing survival items.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)