Haiti: MSF fully reopens Tabarre hospital following armed intrusion

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) fully resumed medical services at its Tabarre hospital in Port-au-Prince on August 28, after an armed intrusion on July caused the organization suspend admissions in the trauma centre.

“We are pleased to resume all activities and be at the service of the public once again,” said Mumuza Muhindo, MSF head of mission in Haiti. “The decision to suspend activities was difficult, given the vital role of this hospital in meeting medical needs in Port-au-Prince. But the decision to re-open was difficult as well: there is no place for violence or weapons inside a medical facility. What happened in July is absolutely unacceptable. We will not be able to work unless the patients and health professionals are respected.” 

The Tabarre hospital provides medical care and services for people with traumatic injuries or severe burns. It has a total of 75 beds and an emergency department that received 2,000 people in 2022.

On the night of July 6, 2023, more than 20 armed individuals forced their way into the hospital. They threatened MSF staff members with firearms and forced them to lie on the floor while they abducted a patient from the facility. This armed intrusion led to the closure of the hospital on July 7.

The hospital’s burns and outpatient care departments reopened a few days later, but the hospital did not resume admissions for trauma patients until today.

This is the latest example in a series of violent incidents that forced MSF to either close or temporarily suspend its activities in several facilities in Port-au-Prince. In January, MSF was forced to end its support to the Raoul Pierre Louis Hospital, and another MSF hospital in Cité Soleil has suspended activities repeatedly due to frequent gunfire in the vicinity. It is now operating at reduced capacity.

“MSF is committed to Haiti and its people,” Muhindo said. “That is why we continue to have discussions with all stakeholders and armed groups, including law enforcement forces, to ensure that the conditions allow us to continue our services and work safely in Tabarre."

"Our message to everyone carrying a weapon in Haiti is clear — that respect for health facilities, patients and staff is non-negotiable. The survival of the Tabarre hospital will depend on everyone abiding by this.”

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical and humanitarian organisation that provides assistance to people in need, irrespective of their race, gender, as well as their political, economic or religious stances and interests. MSF has worked in Haiti since 1990, with major responses to disasters such as the 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreaks. MSF currently provides care for patients with traumatic injuries, burns or emergency medical conditions, care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, primary health care and maternity care.