Since 2013, the political crisis in Central African Republic (CAR) has submerged the country in a violent conflict that has exacerbated a pre-existing humanitarian and health emergency.
A few weeks ago, armed groups started to get closer to Bangassou (Mbomou Province) where Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been supporting the hospital since 2014. On Monday May 8, intense fighting broke out between one armed group and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in Yongofongo centre. Over the weekend, another attack took place when the same armed group entered the UN force base.
Update: Since Saturday morning, MSF treated 69 wounded in Bangassou
On Monday May 15, a MSF mobile team finally succeeded to provide emergency medical care to the people who sought refuge in the Bangassou mosque. Among the 250 people there, MSF counted 25 wounded and provided first aid care to ten of them before gunshots forced the medical team to leave. Five of the wounded required surgical intervention. 33 other wounded people were treated in the hospital today, which brings the total to 59 since Saturday morning.
MSF is extremely worried about the civilian population of Bangassou. The organization had confirmation that the displaced people who sought refuge in the hospital and in the mosque had been transferred today to the church. The security situation remains extremely volatile and staff can still hear sporadic gunshots. MSF calls again on all parties in the conflict to agree to a ceasefire to allow for the deployment of urgent medical aid for civilian and wounded people.
"Our teams are aware of further wounded elsewhere in the city who are under fire and are, therefore, unable to reach medical care. At the moment, however, it is impossible to have an idea of the exact number as we can’t move around the city centre because of the intensity of the fighting. We are asking all parties currently engaged in open fighting in Bangassou to agree to a ceasefire and allow us to collect the wounded and offer a minimum of humanitarian assistance to the population,” says René Colgo, MSF’s deputy head of mission in the facility.
In recent days, some residents of Bangassou have fled the city but others are trapped in their homes or have sought refuge in places that they hope can offer some protection against the violence.
“All wounded have the right to access medical care. Civilians should not be targeted, and all warring parties have a duty to respect the safety of medical facilities such as hospitals, ambulances and their staff,” says Colgo.
Conflict in the eastern part of the CAR has intensified in recent months, reaching what was previously the relatively stable province of Mbomou in March.
As for this conflict, MSF’s teams in Bangassou hospital treated 21 people who had been wounded in clashes between UN forces and an armed group, 25 kilometres from the city.
MSF is an international independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters. In addition to its operations in over a dozen locations in the CAR, it has been providing support to Bangassou hospital since 2014 as well as to the health centres of Yongofongo, Mbalazine and Niakari where it offers access to vital medical care for 206,000 inhabitants of Mbomou province. From January to March 2017, MSF treated almost 2,000 people in the Bangassou hospital.