MSF Treating Injured in Bouake, Ivory Coast; Calls for Respect of Civilians

Abidjan, November 5, 2004 - The international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is extremely concerned about the impact on civilians of the government offensive launched yesterday (Nov 4) on the city of Bouake in the New Forces-controlled zone of the Ivory Coast.

Air strikes on Bouake have injured many civilians. On Thursday, November 4, 39 people were urgently referred to the public hospital in Bouake where an MSF medical and surgical team is working. The MSF team has also been informed of many deaths, but has been unable to confirm this information.

MSF calls for all parties to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law, particularly concerning the obligation to protect civilians and respect health facilities.

MSF teams are currently providing assistance at another emergency in Ivory Coast: a riot that began three days ago in the main prison in Abidjan, the Maison d'Arrêt et de Correction d'Abidjan. This riot has already resulted in 45 injured and at least 10 deaths. Since the riot began, the MSF team that normally provides medical care to the prisoners, has had limited access, but has already transferred 12 seriously injured patients to the university hospital in Yopougon.

MSF has been working in Ivory Coast since 1991, and has been working in the public hospital in Bouake since October 2002. MSF teams in Ivory Coast include 68 international and over 850 national staff.