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Central African Republic
MSF in Central African Republic, 2007
Field Staff: 557
Reason for Intervension:
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On June 11 all activities came to an abrupt halt after the fatal shooting of 27-year-old MSF volunteer, Elsa Serfass. Elsa was struck by a bullet while travelling in a well marked MSF vehicle in the ngaoundai region. The rebel group known as The Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy was responsible for the shooting. MSF condemned the murder. Following discussions with all parties involved in the ongoing conflict and after a careful evaluation of the humanitarian space, a portion of activities resumed one month later.
The population of northern Central African Republic (CAR) continues to live in an environment of chronic violence where many needs are not being met through humanitarian assistance. Fighting between government forces and rebel groups abated slightly in the second half of 2007, becoming a low-intensity conflict with isolated but unpredictable clashes. At the same time, there was an increase in attacks by roadside bandits taking advantage of the general lawlessness that prevails in the region.
Many villages have been looted or burned, forcing their inhabitants to flee.
Since late 2005, fighting between the government and various rebel groups in the northeast and north-west of the country has caused massive displacement of the population. Many villages have been looted or burned, forcing their inhabitants to flee. Most have sought refuge in the bush, often a few kilometers away from their destroyed homes. Displaced people are mostly scattered in small groups rather than gathering in camps, apart from recently in Kabo. Some villagers have had to flee several times after continued attacks by different armed groups.
Despite an increase in international aid in 2007, many people who have fled continue to live in makeshift shelters exposed to the elements and in constant fear of a new attack. They have no blankets or mosquito nets, no access to healthcare and clean water, and struggle to find food. They are particularly vulnerable to malaria, respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases.
MSF focused on providing medical assistance to populations affected by the conflict through a network of mobile clinics, hospitals and health centers across the north-west in Kabo, Batangafo, Kaga Bandoro, Markounda, Paoua, Boguila, and in the north-eastern areas of Birao and Gordil. More than 270,000 outpatient consultations were conducted and more than 16,000 patients hospitalized. Treating patients for diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and sleeping sickness. Mental health services were also provided to communities living with the ongoing threat of displacement and violence.
The chronic insecurity severely affected the population’s access to healthcare, preventing aid organizations from reaching people and stopping many people from venturing out and visiting the health facilities. As the second half of 2007 progressed, the growing presence of bandits and the lack of clear control in many areas made it extremely difficult for international organizations to work in such an environment.
MSF has worked in the Central African Republic since 1997.