Goma – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has suspended our activities in Bambu health district in Ituri province, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, following an attack on one of our vehicles.
On 28 October, a team of five MSF staff travelled to Bambu to assist isolated communities. When the team were travelling back at around just before 4 p.m., unidentified gunmen fired at the MSF vehicle for an unexplained reason, with two members of the team sustaining bullet wounds – one in the right armpit and another in their pelvis. Our two injured colleagues have since received medical attention and are in a stable condition. The entire team was later evacuated to the town of Bunia.
“This is unacceptable,” said Frédéric Lai Manantsoa, MSF Head of Mission in Ituri. “We condemn all forms of violence against the medical mission, our patients and staff.”
“We are shocked by this news and alarmed at the violence that is raging in the province,” says Manantsoa. “This is the second serious incident that has occurred in the past few months - this time involving a vehicle clearly identified as medical and humanitarian.”
Violence against civilians is a constant fact of life in this area and insecurity is growing, but still we need to try to reach people who need medical care.Frédéric Lai Manantsoa, MSF Head of Mission in Ituri
The convoy came under fire even though it was clearly showing the MSF name and emblem. MSF teams work according to the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence.
Last June, we expressed our outrage at the destruction and looting of the General Referral Hospital of Boga, which was the last remaining health facility in the district. MSF had coordinated its rehabilitation, with many years of effort going up in smoke in a matter of minutes.
“Violence against civilians is a constant fact of life in this area and insecurity is growing, but still we need to try to reach people who need medical care,” says Manantsoa.
MSF’s activities in the health zone of Bambu are temporary suspended.
In Ituri, MSF supports three general hospitals, 12 health centers, four health posts and 32 community health posts in the Drodro, Nizi and Angumu health districts. We provide pediatric care and mental health services, treat malnutrition and malaria and assist survivors of sexual violence.