Haut-Uélé, DR Congo: More Deadly Attacks against Civilians

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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Following the attack of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on the city of Faradje (Haut Uélé) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on December 25, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team went there on December 28 to provide emergency medical assistance. The team should very soon go to Doruma city, where a similar attack resulted in dozens of deaths.

First information on the attack on Faradje, a city of 25,000 people in northeastern DRC, reached the MSF team in Dungu on the evening of Christmas Day. This attack was in response to recent military operations against the LRA bases in the surroundings of the Garamba National Park. On the following morning, a nurse form Tadu, a small town 20 km south of Faradje, signaled by radio the arrival in his area of thousands of people fleeing the attack, probably around 15,000. The nurse confirmed that Faradje’s head physician and another civil servant had been killed in the attack. According to him, many seriously wounded victims were still stuck in the city’s hospital, which was left without proper equipment following looting by LRA soldiers.

Given the situation, it was decided to go to Faradje as soon as the security situation would allow it. On December 28, an MSF physician, the Dungu project coordinator, and a nurse arrived in the city by an Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF) plane. A second airplane from the Mission Aviation Fellowship chartered from Bunia also arrived on site to evacuate the most seriously wounded. Among the 15 wounded still in the city’s hospital, 4 needed to be urgently flown to Dungu. All had been wounded by guns or knives. The MSF team left medical equipment to the hospital’s staff before leaving on the same day.

The team reports the large scale of the LRA attack on Faradje: market and houses burnt down and the remaining population living in fear of more attacks. According to local authorities, more than 60 had been killed on December 25 and an unknown number kidnapped.

MSF will, as soon as conditions allow, evaluate the needs of these thousands of people who have fled Faradje without taking with them anything that could ensure their survival. Assistance to these populations is difficult to put in place and MSF remains one of the few organizations able to work outside Dungu city today.

The city of Doruma, close to the border with Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) was the second target of an LRA attack these past days. Missionaries present in the area report numerous dead and wounded and MSF is planning the same intervention as in Faradje: providing medical care to the wounded and evaluating the needs to organize medical assistance.