Looting causes suspension of MSF project in North Kivu, DRC

Goma - A security incident has forced the international medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to suspend its projects in the Masisi and Rutshuru territories in the province of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During the night of January 18, one of the MSF bases, close to Kabati village, was attacked by armed and uniformed men who threatened team members and looted money, logistical and communication material as well a clearly marked MSF car. The car was retrieved the following day. Consequently MSF has decided to withdraw its five expatriates from the project and has suspended most of its activities in the area. Although the team member who was present was unhurt, the incident has had a significant impact on the security of the staff. Furthermore, the confiscation of logistical and communications material as well as a car compromises severely the neutrality of MSF in the ongoing conflict in the DRC. In addition, the continuation of project activities are severely hampered by the looting. To be able to work in a chronic conflict situation, as in the DRC, it is of utmost importance that all the parties involved in the conflict respect the neutrality of MSF in its actions. MSF has worked in Kabati, a village 140 kilometres north of Goma, since 2002. Every year MSF treats almost 10,000 children for malnutrition in 10 feeding centres (therapeutic and supplementary). Other activities consist of the treatment of sexual transmitted infections and the prevention of HIV/Aids transmission. Working closely together with the local health authorities MSF assists the vaccination campaigns in the area. For the past four weeks, MSF has offered medical treatment to those who have fled the fighting in and around Kanyabayonga. More than 100,000 people - both locals and displaced - benefit from the medical activities of MSF.