Ituri, DRC: From minimal to nearly non-existent aid

The population is a pawn in the war "The nightmare of nights"

During the night of February 22, 2005, a group of approximately 150 displaced people left one camp for another. They were caught in an ambush. It is difficult to know the exact number of dead and wounded. The incident was reported by wounded who escaped and were treated at the health center. One man was transferred because of gunshot wounds to the shoulder; four children with machete wounds were also transferred.

Fewer than 20 people succeeded in reaching their destination after the massacre.

  • Some were shot.
  • Children were killed in machete attacks.
  • A 15-year-old girl was raped in public.
  • A wounded child left for dead woke up the next morning surrounded by nine bodies.

Survivors arrived at their destination after hiding for two or three days in the forest.

In a volatile security situation that imposed a limited number of operational choices, we first responded to the immediate needs of Bunia's population following massacres in the town. Then we tried to respond to the needs of populations newly displaced by recent clashes (December 2004).

After one and a half years of working with the populations, MSF attempted to expand the area in which it could intervene. The expansion was the result of knowing the populations' needs and the possibility of gaining access to them because of changes in the security situation. It was also tied to our perception of our own legitimacy given the recognition of the impartiality of our medical work and our neutrality toward each of the armed groups operating in the region.

Moreover, for simple operational reasons, providing aid to camps outside Bunia was made possible by the spontaneous gathering of displaced populations; it would have been impossible if the people had been scattered across the region.

Having access to populations made it possible to understand their conditions of survival; unfortunately, it also exposed our teams to more security incidents.