MSF treats wounded during outbreak of violence in Bas-Congo, western DRC

But many wounded, some seriously, are currently out of reach and urgently need medical care.
Brussels/Kinshasa – At the general hospital in Matadi, the main town of Bas-Congo province, a medical team from Médecins Sans Frontières' Congo Emergency Pool (Pool d'Urgence Congo: PUC) has provided care for 29 people wounded in the clashes between the police and members of Bundu Dia Kongo, a political-religious group contesting the State's authority. Since February 28, the west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has become the theatre of violent clashes, this date marking the start of the Congolese police's repression of the members of Budnu Dia Kongo. "This is an emergency situation," said Philippe Havet, MSF Coordinator in Bas-Congo. "There are wounded - by bullet or bladed weapons – requiring emergency medical treatment. For MSF, all wounded should be treated, whatever their political or religious affiliations." The inhabitants have been forced to flee or find themselves trapped in the fighting and shooting. "During the clashes in a district of Matadi, on March 8, two children of two and four were hit by stray bullets", said Bertrand Perrochet, PUC Coordinator, who is present on the ground. "They were referred to the hospital in Matadi: we managed to care for one of them, but the youngest died during the transfer." Some people were hit by stray bullets while fleeing the violence. Like one young man of 14, with a serious bullet wound, admitted to the hospital in Matadi on Thursday March 20, having spent two weeks hidden in the bush. In order to reach as many wounded as possible with complete independence of action, MSF has organised two mobile medical teams in the regions of Kibunzi and Tshela, to the north of Matadi, where the majority of Bundu Dia Kongo members have taken up positions. During the last two days, the mobile teams have counted 30 wounded in the 15 health facilities visited. They have distributed medical material and dressings so medical personnel can treat the wounded. Three patients requiring amputation will be referred to the hospital in Matadi. MSF's mobile teams have seen villages emptied of a good number of their inhabitants, where many houses have been burnt to the ground. "It's difficult to give an overall figure for the number of victims because a lot of them are still out of reach", added Philippe Havet. "Most of the wounded are members of the Bundu Dia Kongo group, who don't go to health facilities through fear of being found by the forces of law and order; others have nothing to do with the clashes and have fled the violence to hide in the bush. Yet some of them are seriously wounded and their health must be in really poor shape. They need urgent treatment."