Central African Republic: Systematic attacks on citizens

Wounded patient being prepared for surgery by MSF staff at Berberati Regional University Hospital. Photo: Yann Libessart

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is dismayed at the high level of organised violence against civilians by armed groups in the Grimari and Bambari provinces of the Ouaka region in the Central African Republic (CAR).

"During the last six weeks our teams on the ground have witnessed the systematic use of retaliatory violence against entire villages, resulting in killings and ongoing displacement of thousands,” says MSF’s Project coordinator, Luigi Pandolfi.

The most recent attack happened on June 10 in Liwa, just 10 kilometers away from the International Military Force in Bambari, and resulted in the utter destruction of at least 160 houses and the killing of 12 people.

“During the medical consultations and evacuation of wounded from Liwa I saw the dead bodies of three adults and one child burned in their houses during the attack,” says Pandolfi. According to reports from local residents, they had been burned alive.

Child being tested for malaria at Berberati Regional University Hospital Photo:Yann Libessart

In recent weeks, a number of villages, including Bakala, Yabita and Lakanja in Grimari and Bambari provinces have been partially or completely destroyed, leaving civilians no choice but to flee into the bush having also lost most of their household goods, agricultural tools and seeds.

MSF alone has treated 97 war wounded in the past two months as a result of the attacks on civilians in the Ouaka region. Many war-wounded travel over 24 hours to reach our clinic, and since we are present in only one part of the region we believe many will succumb to their wounds.

The continuing violence is not only resulting in wholesale slaughter and widespread torture, it is also creating massive displacement as terrified civilians flee the attacks.

We are providing assistance to populations whose vulnerability is exacerbated by the consequences of the conflict and displacement, says Pandolfi.

Malaria is the leading cause of death with more than 71% of patients testing positive for malaria in our consultations as displaced people are living outdoors in the forest, and the rainy season has started which makes them more vulnerable for malaria."

MSF has been operational in the Ouaka region since mid-April 2014. To date, MSF has provided over 1,000 basic health care consultations via mobile clinics for displaced population and assisted 97 war-wounded.

MSF calls on all the armed parties to halt attacks on the civilians of Ouaka region.