Central African Republic: MSF calls for a ceasefire in Bangassou to allow for the deployment of urgent medical aid
May 15, 2017
Intense fighting broke out last Saturday morning in Bangassou (Mbomou Province). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders treated 69 wounded in Bangassou since the morning of 13 May. The organisation is calling on all parties to agree to a ceasefire in order to access wounded people in urgent need of life-saving medical care.
“In the space of a few hours, MSF treated 21 wounded people in Bangassou hospital. Our teams are aware of further wounded elsewhere in the city who are under fire and are therefore unable to reach medical care. At the moment, however, it is impossible to have an idea of the exact number as the intensity of the fighting means it is impossible to move around the city centre. We are asking all parties currently engaged in open fighting in Bangassou to agree to a ceasefire and allow us to collect the wounded and offer a minimum of humanitarian assistance to the population,” says René Colgo, MSF’s deputy head of mission currently working in Bangassou’s hospital.
In recent days, some residents of Bangassou have fled the city but others are trapped in their homes or have sought refuge in places that they hope can offer some protection against the violence.
On 15 May, an MSF mobile team finally succeeded to provide emergency medical care to the people who sought refuge in the Bangassou mosque. Amongst the 250 people there, MSF counted 25 wounded and provided first aid care to 10 before gunshots forced the MSF team to leave. Five of the wounded required surgical intervention. Thirty-three other wounded were treated in the hospital on Monday, which brings the total to 69 since Saturday morning.
MSF is extremely worried about the civilian population of Bangassou. The organization had confirmation that the displaced people who sought refuge in the hospital and in the mosque had been transferred to the church. The security situation remains extremely volatile and staff can still hear sporadic gunshots. MSF calls again on all parties in the conflict to allow for the deployment of urgent medical aid for civilian and wounded people.
“All wounded have the right to access medical care. Civilians should not be targeted, and all warring parties have a duty to respect the safety of medical facilities such as hospitals, ambulances and their staff,” says René Colgo.
Conflict in the eastern part of the Central African Republic has intensified in recent months, reaching what was previously the relatively stable province of Mbomou in March. On last Monday 8 May, MSF’s teams in Bangassou hospital treated 12 people who had been wounded in clashes between UN forces and an armed group, 25 kilometres from the city.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters. In addition to its operations in over a dozen locations in the Central African Republic, it has been providing support to Bangassou hospital since 2014 as well as to the health centres of Yongofongo, Mbalazine and Niakari where it offers access to vital medical care for 206,000 inhabitants of Mbomou province. From January to March 2017, MSF treated almost 2,000 people in the Bangassou hospital.