Renewed tension in Bukavu, DRC, affects MSF teams and patients
1 June 2004
Fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) town of Bukavu - adjacent to the border with Rwanda - near the end of May has caused an MSF team there to seek refuge in the nearby UN compound. The clashes signify an escalation of ethnic tension in the town after months of instability. Forces loyal to the head of military in the region, Mbuza Mabe, have been attempting to regain control of the town after confrontations broke out on May 26 between them and soldiers close to Colonel Mutebusi, who was suspended from the army in March. Exchange of gunfire in the Bukavu neighbourhood where the MSF team is based, as well as attacks on international NGO property in the area, caused MSF staff to leave their premises on May 27. ARV care in Bukavu In October 2003, MSF began providing anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment for AIDS patients in Bukavu, where it has run a project since 2000. MSF assistance has not been directly interrupted yet, although there is concern that continued fighting might make it impossible to get needed drugs to patients. According to project coordinator, Konrad Putz, "Fortunately all of our team are safe. It would be a real shame, however, if our operations are disrupted further as uninterrupted provision of medicines is a crucial part of ARV treatment."