Mavinga/Geneva, 30 November 2002 - Yesterday evening (Nov 29) at 5 pm local time an anti-tank mine exploded under a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) vehicle near the southeastern Angolan city of Mavinga, killing seven and leaving six wounded. The accident occurred 36 kilometers from Mavinga, where MSF is running medical and nutritional programmes.
The MSF vehicle involved in the incident was traveling with a second MSF vehicle from Cunjamba, north of Mavinga, where they had spent the day carrying out vaccination activities. In addition to the vaccination team, the small convoy was transporting a number of patients to the hospital in Mavinga. The vehicles were driving on the same road they had traveled over that morning. When 36 kilometers from Mavinga, the first vehicle ran over and detonated an anti-tank mine.
A total of 13 persons, including two infants, were traveling in the vehicle that detonated the mine, killing seven persons. With the exception of one infant, the victims were all Angolan medical staff working in the vaccination team.
"We are shocked, frustrated, and extremely sad," said Dr. Thomas Nierle, director of MSF operations in Geneva. "The staff killed in this accident were providing a glimpse of humanity after years of suffering in Angola. Sadly they are now victims of their commitment. Why? All of our thoughts are with the victims and their families."
Immediately following the incident, a second anti-tank mine was discovered nearby. With the aid of de-mining organizations present in the area, MSF evacuated the dead, wounded and survivors of the accident to Mavinga, where the wounded were treated at the MSF hospital. The wounded were transferred to Luanda this morning in a World Food Programme (WFP) plane.
MSF is temporarily reducing its activities in the Mavinga region. The team is being reinforced by members of MSF in Geneva to ensure that the wounded receive the best medical care, and provide moral and psychological support to the victims, their families and the MSF team.
With the exception of one infant, the victims were all Angolan medical staff working in the vaccination team. The staff killed in this accident were providing a glimpse of humanity after years of suffering in Angola.