Paris/Goma, 10 July 2012 — Fighting resumed in early July in the region of Rutshuru, after a brief lull. Rebels of the March 23, 2009 movement (M23) advanced towards the towns of Jomba Chengerero, Rwanguba and Bunagana until they took control of Rutshuru and Kiwanja on Sunday, 8 July. The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to provide healthcare to the people in this region.
"Some roads are blocked or unsafe and it is difficult for people to access health facilities. There have been significantly less people coming to Rutshuru General Hospital," says Mickael Le Paih, MSF’s head of mission in North Kivu.
The teams are very concerned that patients cannot reach the cholera treatment centre in Rwanguba where an outbreak began late May. With the support of an MSF emergency team, 753 patients were treated for cholera at the beginning of July. "However, the fighting over the last few days has prevented us from being able to provide quality care," says Le Paih.
MSF calls on belligerents to ensure their access to the population and to maintain unhindered access to health facilities.
"Civilians are once again bearing the brunt of the violence. One of our employees was shot in the leg, this Sunday, during a looting in Kiwanja," says Le Paih.
"In addition to the fighting, there are regularly isolated acts of violence and looting throughout the area. This makes it feel like the society is disintegrating," says Jean Reijs, MSF’s surgeon in Rutshuru General Hospital.
MSF maintains its operations in North Kivu and a surgical team is always present in the Rutshuru General Hospital where 280 wounded have been treated in the past 8 weeks.
The security situation in Rutshuru in recent weeks has also led to significant displacements, inside North Kivu or to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, which forced an already fragile population to live in extremely poor conditions.
MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation that provides a neutral and impartial medical assistance to victims of conflict in the DRC since 1996. MSF operates independently of any political agenda, religious or military.
In North Kivu, MSF treated, in 2011, more than 404,000 patients (from which 32,000 hospitalisations), has provided care to more than 8,000 malnourished patients, treated over 45,000 people against malaria and conducted more than 15,000 deliveries, on all territories of the province. In addition, the teams treated nearly 300 patients for trauma due to violence.