On Monday June 7, 2021, the General Referral Hospital (GRH) in Boga, Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—supported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—was deliberately targeted in an attack that killed 12 people, including 10 civilians, the international medical humanitarian organization said today. The hospital was completely destroyed: Several buildings were burned down, including the intensive care unit, the pharmacy was looted, and the medical reserves were stolen. Nine people wounded in the attack were admitted to the Gety general hospital, also supported by MSF. The attack occurred amidst ongoing violent clashes in the city, increasing malnutrition rates among children in the area, and rising sexual violence.
The GRH was the last remaining health care facility in the Boga health zone, serving more than 80,000 people. This violent attack will prevent thousands of people from accessing health care. Hundreds of children suffering from malnutrition will no longer have access to the therapeutic nutrition program developed by MSF. MSF teams are appalled by the attack and the extent of the damage. MSF had coordinated this hospital’s construction between 2017 and 2020 as a response to the dire lack of health care services in the region.
In the past few months, MSF has consistently raised the alarm about rising insecurity. “Hospitals in conflict zones must remain protected and neutral spaces,” says Frédéric Lai Manantsoa, MSF head of mission in DRC. “Everyone involved in the conflicts in Ituri must respect patients and health care workers."
This attack violates international humanitarian law and will have dire long-term consequences, MSF said. All groups involved in the conflict must understand the vital need to protect the provision of health care in Ituri province. Until then, humanitarian workers and health care workers will be forced to endure an endless cycle of rebuilding facilities that have been attacked and destroyed.