Ongoing political unrest and violence in Central African Republic (CAR) has created a humanitarian crisis. The fighting has killed or wounded thousands of people, and displaced many more.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has become the country’s primary health care provider, filling the gaps left by limited public health care facilities and a shortage of personnel and supplies.
As of late 2016, 2.3 million people, or about half of CAR’s population, depended on humanitarian aid to survive. Almost one million people are still displaced inside or outside national borders.
Most health facilities have been destroyed, and many people are afraid to travel to the few that are left. The lack of trained health care workers and a shortage of medical supplies has exacerbated an already dire situation.
While many humanitarian agencies have withdrawn due to lack of funding, we continue our work at sites across the country, though doing so has taken a toll with the death of two of our staff in 2016.
When conflict broke out in June 2017 in Bria, the population in the PK3 displacement site nearby swelled from 3,000 in November 2016 to more than 25,000. In response, we increased the number of mobile clinics. In just two weeks in June, the mobile teams carried out more than 600 consultations, primarily for malaria. We also provide water to people in the camp.
We sent mobile clinics to Kolaga, about six miles south of Bria, to care for displaced people who settled there. The mobile teams also travel to more remote areas where people do not have access to care and cannot, or are afraid to, travel to locations where health care is available.
In Alindao, in the heart of the country, where an upsurge of fighting in May 2017 left at least 133 people dead and thousands more displaced, an MSF team is working with local hospital staff to treat serious cases. In addition to training medical staff to develop an emergency response plan in case of mass casualties, the team started a vaccination campaign that aims to reach approximately 7,500 children in the area.
In Bangui, where violence resulted in dozens of casualties in 2016, we carried out 3,700 surgical interventions, assisted over 8,965 births, and offered comprehensive care to 5,239 victims of violence and 1,341 victims of sexual violence. Our teams also carried out 32,300 consultations in the predominantly Muslim PK5 neighborhood and more than 106,000 consultations at the M’poko camp for internally displaced people near the international airport.
Our emergency response team, Equipe d’Urgence RCA, responded to several health and nutrition emergencies across the country in 2016 and vaccinated more than 12,800 children against measles.
We provided routine immunizations to almost 95,000 children in Berbérati, Bangassou, and Paoua.
MSF first started working in CAR in 1997. Today, our programs in CAR are among our largest in terms of staffing, expenses, and patients treated.