MSF DENOUNCES THE TARGETING OF CIVILIANS IN A NEW WAVE OF VIOLENCE IN CAR
PARIS, France, September 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- 26 patients treated with machete and gunshot wounds in Bouca by MSF teams
The medical-humanitarian organisation MSF denounces the targeting of the civilian population in a new wave of violence that has erupted in Bouca, 325 km north of Bangui, in Central African Republic (CAR).
MSF treated 26 people, injured either by machetes or gunshots, including eight women and six children. This new wave of violence, in Bouca and also in Bossangoa region, is causing even more suffering to civilians already dealing with months of conflict and repeatedly being forced from their homes. MSF projects in Bossangoa, Batangafo and Paoua have all seen an increase in the number of patients admitted to health facilities due to violence related injuries in the last month.
Fighting broke out in Bouca at around six in the morning on Monday when armed men, purportedly supporting the ousted president François Bozizé, entered the village. They left the area before a group of Séléka forces returned. 26 injured people were treated by MSF teams while five people had to be transferred to the hospital in Batangafo due to their critical condition. MSF is deeply concerned by the targeting of the civilian population and the atrocities committed by both parties in Bouca (an undetermined number of people killed, summary executions, houses burnt down). The medical organisation is also extremely worried about the consequences of the use of inflammatory sectarian rhetoric which started during the Séléka rebellion in March, that could fuel more violence in the country.
“We are highly concerned about a further escalation in fighting and retaliatory acts of violence”, says Sylvain Groulx, coordinator of MSF projects in CAR.
Neighbors from Bouca fled the village as many houses were burned down, while around 300 people are seeking refuge in a Catholic compound in the town. MSF is planning to start mobile clinics to monitor their situation and that of those hiding in the bush. At present, even more families are being driven from their homes and into the bush right in the middle of the time when people are most vulnerable to contracting malaria.
In the nearby town of Bossangoa, MSF teams are alarmed to have received more than twenty five separate cases of machete and gunshot victims in the last two weeks. This sudden escalation of sectarian violence has heightened the atmosphere of fear within the communities, with thousands of people fleeing the town in search of sanctuary. The organisation is also worried about reported attacks against health workers and strongly condemns the senseless killing of two humanitarian workers from ACTED last Saturday in Bossangoa.
“MSF denounces these horrific acts of violence against the population, and calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the safety of non-combatants and medical and humanitarian aid workers”, states Groulx.
For the moment, MSF maintains its medical activities all around the country, those already set up before the March coup d'Etat and those recently established to respond to the acute needs of the population affected by displacement, high levels of malaria and the collapse and absence of the public health system in the country.
MSF is operating seven regular projects in CAR, while it has recently started emergency operations in four more locations.