Kabala attacked, MSF-team evacuated

Press release: June 8, 2000 - On the night of June 6th, the town of Kabala, with a resident population of 10,000 inhabitants and more than 2,000 recently displaced persons, was attacked by armed groups. The MSF team of three people (two international staff and one Sierra Leonese surgeon) had to evacuate, together with the civilian population, to the surrounding bush. The team had to leave behind 48 patients in the hospital that is supported by MSF, plus 107 malnourished children - amongst whom 13 were severely malnourished. The next morning the MSF team was able to return to Kabala town to check these patients. They found only empty beds with IV bags and partially full blood bags hanging over the beds in the different wards of the hospital. The patients had all left to the bush for safety. This included two children with severe anemia who were receiving blood transfusions and four post-operative cases who could hardly walk. They had been carried to the bush by their parents and relatives. The team was unable to remain in Kabala due to the threat of further attacks and were evacuated by helicopter on the 7th of June. The MSF team brought three wounded people with them. They had to leave behind 68 health workers who were working at Kabala Hospital. With the suspension of these MSF activities in Kabala, the entire northern district of Sierra Leone today has no functioning hospitals. Already, more than six hospitals and 250 health centers were out of service, leaving close to one million people without any access to health care. MSF and the Sierra Leonese people are at a loss as to what the UN mandate is in Sierra Leone. If protecting the civilian population is not one of the UN's major priorities and responsibilities, then what is the UN doing? Even with this current situation, UNAMSIL is continuing to pull out its military team from Kabala. This decision for their continued evacuation is putting at risk the people from the town of Kabala and of its surroundings.