DR Congo: Patient killed in Drodro hospital attack

MSF reiterates calls on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect medical care, patients, and facilities.

Drodro general hospital, Ituri province

Patients stand in front of the entrance to the pediatrics and the intensive nutritional therapy unit at the general reference hospital in Drodro. | Democratic Republic of Congo 2023 © MSF/Michel Lunanga

In the evening of March 6, armed men attacked the town of Drodro in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Ituri province and ransacked the General Reference Hospital of Drodro, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), whose staff work at the hospital, said today. The attackers killed a patient in her bed and looted medical equipment, mattresses, and pharmacy stock from the hospital and another nearby medical facility. 

“What has happened here is nothing short of horrifying,” said Stéphanie Giandonato, MSF program manager for DRC. “We condemn the killing of a defenseless elderly patient in the strongest possible terms and urge all parties to the conflict to respect and protect patients, medical staff, medical facilities, civilians, and humanitarian aid workers.”

The surge of violence in and around Drodro has triggered a mass exodus from the area, with thousands of people seeking refuge at Rho camp for displaced people, about 6 miles northeast of Drodro. The camp was originally designed to accommodate a maximum of 30,000 people but is now sheltering more than twice that number. 

“The consequences for [people] are dire,” said Boubacar Mballo, project coordinator for MSF at the Drodro hospital. “[The] hospital can no longer function, leaving people without medical care. In addition, the growing insecurity has effectively cut off the region, resulting in the complete disruption of food and much-needed additional water supplies in the overwhelmed Rho camp.”  

After the attack, MSF temporarily evacuated its staff from the town, but in Rho camp our teams continue to provide basic health care, sexual and reproductive health care, mental health support, water and sanitation services, and stabilization of patients in critical condition. However, MSF is concerned that as insecurity worsens and supplies run out, this support is not sustainable.  

“We are concerned that people’s access to necessities such as clean drinking water, food, and medical care is at risk,” said Mballo. “We emphasize the obligation of all parties to uphold the respect and protection of the civilian population and medical [care] under all circumstances.”