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DRC: MSF Staff Attacked in North Kivu

MSF has suspended a portion of its operations in the Masisi area and is concerned about the fate of its patients.

Kinshasa, November 21, 2011—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) strongly condemns an attack on the MSF team working in Masisi, North Kivu Province, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The medical aid organization has suspended a portion of its operations in the Masisi area and is concerned about the fate of its patients.

During the night of November 20 and into the next morning, a number of armed men forced their way into the MSF residential compound and opened fire. One member of the MSF team was wounded by a bullet to the shoulder. He was treated by his colleagues and is now in stable condition.

“In addition to the shock experienced by our team,” said Gaël Hankenne, MSF head of mission in Kinshasa, “this incident prevents us from properly carrying out our field medical activities and so negatively affects the local population.”

To maintain the safety of its teams, MSF has been forced to suspend the project’s mobile medical activities until further notice. However, MSF will continue to provide a minimum level of emergency support at the Masisi General Referral Hospital.

MSF deplores this violence that has once again hampered its ability to provide help and assistance to the population.This incident comes at a time when MSF’s teams are regularly being targeted for attacks. In April 2011 in South Kivu Province, two MSF staff were wounded by gunfire and the organization was forced to temporarily suspend a portion of their activities in the region.

MSF has had a presence in the Masisi health area since 2007. Teams provide the full range of secondary health care at the Masisi General Referral Hospital and provides  primary health care through Masisi and Nyabiondo health centers. MSF has also established a system of mobile clinics to provide assistance to the sick in the Bukombo displaced persons camp and in areas impacted by a lack of security. In 2010, MSF provided over 108,952 consultations and carried out 1,783 surgeries in the Masisi area alone.

MSF has been present in DRC since 1981 and delivers primary and specialized hospital care in health facilities and through mobile medical clinics throughout the country.