South Kivu, DRC: Two MSF Teams Attacked by Armed Men

Violence against MSF forces suspension of medical activities in area; thousands left without assistance

Bukavu, South Kivu, DRC, April 12, 2011—Two teams with the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were attacked in separate incidents in South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on Sunday, April 10. In one of the incidents, two MSF staff members sustained gunshot injuries.

MSF is extremely concerned about the worsening security situation in South Kivu and condemns violence perpetrated against its staff. Given the current lack of security and respect for humanitarian work, MSF has suspended medical outreach activities in the areas of Uvira, Hauts Plateaux, and Shabunda until further notice.

“It is a difficult decision, because it impacts on people of the region that have very little access to health care,” said Jean Marc Cordaro, MSF director of operations. “But we cannot work without minimum security and respect for humanitarian staff.”

MSF continues to operate its lifesaving emergency activities in hospitals in the region.

On Sunday morning, armed and uniformed men attacked two MSF cars traveling to Marungu, near Hauts Plateaux. In the first incident, gunmen opened fire, stopping the vehicle. They robbed the driver and stole everything in the car. Later Sunday afternoon, gunmen attacked another MSF car on the road between Bukavu and Uvira, near Kamanyola. Two MSF staff members were wounded by gunfire in that incident. Both staff members received timely medical assistance and are currently in stable condition.

MSF condemns any violent act against humanitarian workers and insists that in order to provide urgently needed health care to the people of South Kivu, the safety of medical facilities, vehicles, and staff must be respected by all parties.

MSF provides medical care to thousands of displaced and resident populations in South Kivu and responds to emergencies in the region. MSF teams have managed to reach many isolated areas of South Kivu, including Hauts Plateaux and Shabunda, where people previously had very limited access to health care. MSF also operates a medical project in Kalonge and a hospital in Baraka. More than 30,000 people receive medical assistance every month in the four projects combined.