MSF International President shocked by mass rape and violence as MSF's assistance to Ituri displaced remains suspended

"I was appalled by the constant flow of these defenceless casualties of a war that has stopped being noticed by the outside world." - Dr Rowan Gillies

The increased violence in Ituri, which also proved fatal for the nine Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers last Friday, is hampering relief efforts to the point that MSF had to suspend its aid to tens of thousands of people in need.

Dr. Rowan Gillies, Médecins Sans Frontières' International President, has recently returned from Bunia, the capital of Ituri District in northeastern DR Congo, where he worked as a surgeon treating war victims, general and accident trauma, and obstetric emergencies. He is shocked by the relentless abuse.

"Rape and gross violations against civilians continue unabated, and today we find ourselves unable to reach them because of the extreme levels of violence in the area," said Dr Gillies. "Each week 40 raped girls and women seek MSF's help in Bunia. Many, many more never reach us.

"I was appalled by the constant flow of these defenceless casualties of a war that has stopped being noticed by the outside world."

The increased violence in Ituri, which also proved fatal for the nine Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers last Friday, is hampering relief efforts to the point that MSF had to suspend its aid to tens of thousands of people in need.

Since those killings, tensions and insecurity have risen further and few displaced people are reaching the relatively safe towns of Tché, Kakwa and Tchomia where MSF runs assistance programmes. Critical cases are referred to Bunia, where MSF runs a hospital. Some of them escaped massacres, while others have been subjected to extreme violence, including rape.

At a press conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 3, Dr. Rowan Gillies and Head of the Emergency Desk at MSF-Switzerland, Dr. Abiy Tamrat, described the intolerable humanitarian situation for civilians in Ituri.