Médecins Sans Frontières announces the closing of its programs in the periphery of Bunia

publishes a report on the intolerable level of violence the population is subjected to in the region

During a press conference in Geneva, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced the closing of its programs in the periphery of Bunia town, Ituri District, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The same day, the medical association published a report entitled: «Nothing new in Ituri: the violence continues». The aim of this report is to highlight the intolerable level of violence experienced by civilian populations as well as the difficulties in bringing them humanitarian assistance.

The closing of MSF projects outside of Bunia is a direct consequence of the abduction of the two MSF members on June 2nd,2005. More than a 100,000 displaced people were benefiting from this assistance. The release of the two MSF ten days later, is not considered by the organization as sufficient guarantee for the resumption of its activities.

MSF's Director of Operations, Marylin McHarg, stressed the unacceptable dimension of this abduction, conducted in very violent circumstances. "Despite the fact that we have had to leave the periphery of Bunia, our priority today is to continue our assistance to the populations of Ituri, within Bunia town. An MSF team composed of 14 international volunteers and of 300 Congolese continues to provide health services in the Bon Marché Hospital of Bunia. This medical structure was set up at the peak of violence, which engulfed the province in 2003. Initially envisaged for war surgery, this structure today remains mostly dedicated to the treatment of emergency cases. Everyday, its 300 beds are occupied with emergency cases only." Since the beginning of MSF presence in Ituri, teams have treated more than 3 500 patients, aged between 8 months and 80 years, victims of sexual violence.

The difficulty in bringing a real and efficient help to a significant part of the population living in extremely precarious conditions is the daily reality of humanitarian actors. The 100 000 displaced of the district have no or very little access to any sort of aid.

Thus MSF wants to highlight a double failure. First, the majority of the civilian population is not effectively protected. Moreover, it does not have access to humanitarian assistance. This involves first and foremost the protagonists of the conflict. Yet it also concerns the entire international community despite the undeniable efforts it has made and the resources it has put into place.