A triple suicide attack that took place on the island of Koulfa in the Lake Chad area in Chad on Saturday morning has reportedly killed 30 people and wounded up to 200. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams present in the area have immediately mobilised to provide support to the Chadian Ministry of Health.
The attacks took place at around 10 am on Saturday morning in busy market areas. Wounded people had to be evacuated by boat as there was no easy access to the remote and isolated island. They were first taken to Guitté, a town on the shores of Lake Chad. Forty-two patients were transferred to the district hospital of Mani, a town on the border with Cameroon. The most severely wounded who required advanced surgical care – 36 in total, including 14 children – were transferred by ambulance to the capital, N’djamena.
“This is one of the biggest attacks we have seen in the area in recent months,” says Federica Alberti, Head of Mission for MSF in Chad. “In Mani, the hospital did not have enough space or medications and equipment to deal with the number of wounded. An MSF team composed of a surgeon, a doctor, a nurse and two logisticians arrived Sunday afternoon to support the Ministry of Health in the response and teams are now working around the clock to provide lifesaving care.”
MSF installed three tents with a total of 30 beds to expand the capacity of Mani Hospital. On Sunday afternoon, the team assisted the hospital staff in providing surgical care for 37 wounded patients. The MSF logistics team also ensured that electricity and running water were available to support the medical activities.
In N’djamena, to where the 36 severely wounded were transferred, MSF is supporting the General Hospital and Liberty Hospital. Teams are also supporting the Mother and Child Hospital where eleven children are currently in a serious condition. In all three hospitals, MSF teams have donated essential medications and surgical supplies to assist the Ministry of Health in the response.
MSF has been working in Chad since 1981, and currently runs regular medical programmes in Abéché, Am Timan and Moissala. In March 2015 in the Lake Chad region, MSF launched an emergency response for people displaced due to violence by Islamic State’s West Africa Province, also known as Boko Haram. Teams are now based in Baga Sola and Bol. In N’djamena, MSF also supported Ministry of Health hospitals following suicide bomb attacks that took place on 15 June and 11 July. Since April this year, MSF has been training Ministry of Health staff on the management of mass casualties in order to increase their capacity to respond to emergency situations. Similar training has also recently been carried out in Abéché Regional Hospital, and surgical kits have been donated.
MSF teams are also currently present in several locations in the four countries bordering Lake Chad. In northern Nigeria, MSF is providing essential medical care to displaced and host communities in Borno and Yobe states. MSF is running health facilities in Minawao, Mora, Mokolo and Kousseri in North Cameroon. Lifesaving medical care is also provided in the Diffa region of Niger.