Bangui, 13 January 2014 - Last Saturday, 15 injured were treated urgently by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff at Castor Hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic, after three grenades were detonated close to the health centre. One of the grenades accidentally exploded in the hospital courtyard, slightly injuring a member of the MSF team. The city of Bangui has not managed to restore calm, and on Saturday artillery explosions and continued fighting caused panic in different neighbourhoods. Half the population of the city is estimated to be displaced by the conflict.
All my family were injuredOrnella Bendolo,
Ornella Bendolo, 23, is one of the wounded who was admitted as a consequence of the detonation of the grenades in the vicinity of the health centre, also close to a religious compound where a displaced camp has recently been established. “All my family were injured. A car passed by and they threw a grenade inside the house. My sister, my mother and also an 8-month-old baby in the family suffered the impact of the grenade,” explains Ornella. Another one of the injured, a 16-year-old boy, died as a consequence of his wounds before he could be transferred to the Community Hospital. The MSF staff didn't require hospitalisation.
Refuge in the hospital
During the fighting, some 50 local residents took refuge in the hospital. After the explosions, which might have been an attempt to attack the displaced camp, although this has yet to be verified, a MSF reinforcement team was sent to the hospital but they could not gain access due to the fighting in the area, to which a precarious calm returned a few hours later.
In Bangui, the situation is still tense, with 512,000 displaced people in the city. Joachim Sadoum, 64, is one of the few inhabitants of the Castor neighbourhood who decided not to leave in order to protect his house. “Around 3,500 people lived here, but now, after the attacks on 5 December, the neighbourhood is empty,” he says. Joachim suffered bruising on one hand and leg while fleeing the fighting last Saturday. “I was born in this neighbourhood and I’d never experienced anything like this before. We never had problems until now,” he explains.