In early 2022, the region surrounding the town of Ippy was the site of renewed clashes between rebel groups and government troops, causing thousands of people to flee their villages for Ippy town and nearby camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).
“When violence broke out, we fled to the neighboring village, but it was attacked too, and my three sons were killed,” said Jeremy, who moved with his wife and children to Ippy’s Yetomane site, 25 miles from his home. “We buried them in a mass grave and set off again. Since then, I have not been able to sleep.”
Olga and Jean-Claude traveled more than 80 miles with their six children to reach the Bogouyo IDP camp.
"We walked for a week, with old people, children and sick people," they explained. "Some died along the way, and we were forced to abandon their bodies in the bush without being able to bury them. They were only covered with grass. The children saw it all. How will they forget such images?”
MSF’s immediate response
In February, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) sent an emergency team to Ippy to provide medical support to vulnerable people like Jeremy, Olga, and Jean-Claude.
"As essential needs were not met in the sites, our first priority was to limit the risk of hygiene- and water-related diseases," said René Colgo, MSF's head of mission in CAR. "In the emergency phase, we built 269 latrines, installed water points and organized distributions of soap and jerry cans.”
The installation of water points increased access to drinking water from just 1.6 liters per person per day to 15 liters. When other organizations arrived and took over the management of these facilities, MSF teams focused their support on two local health centers.
"Basic health care was available for displaced people, but the most complex medical cases needed better care, especially for children and pregnant women, who are particularly at risk," said Colgo. "We therefore provided staff and equipment to strengthen pediatric and neonatal services, management of pregnancy complications, and refer patients to these care facilities.”
In just two months, 381 children were hospitalized with MSF support, primarily for severe malaria. Our teams also provided medical care for 31 women with pregnancy complications, performed 20 C-sections, and referred a dozen patients to Bambari for more critical care.
In early May, MSF launched a vaccination campaign to provide basic protection for diseases including measles, polio, yellow fever, meningitis and tuberculosis for nearly 20,000 children under the age of 10, and 9,000 pregnant women. Based in Ippy town, the vaccination drive also included immunization against COVID-19 and will continue until July.