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Armed conflict

Mali: A patient dies after an MSF ambulance is violently detained

MSF condemn a serious and violent obstruction of medical aid and call for respect of humanitarian and medical action, and the civilian population.

A Doctors Without Borders (MSF) ambulance transporting patients between Douentza and Sévaré, in central Mali, was violently stopped by armed men for hours on Tuesday 5 January, resulting in the death of one of the patients on board. We strongly condemn this serious obstruction of medical aid and calls on all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian and medical action and the civilian population.

Our team, travelling in an ambulance, clearly identified by the MSF logo, was on the way to the general hospital in Sévaré with three patients who had been seriously injured in the attacks that occurred on 3 January in Douentza region.

A nurse from the Ministry of Health, a caretaker and a driver were also in the vehicle. The armed men tied them up, assaulted them and left them in the harsh sun for several hours before finally releasing them. One of the patients, a man in his sixties, died while in detention.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of violence against our patients, our staff and medical aid workers in general. We are very shocked and call on the parties to the conflict to respect the ambulances, medical staff, patients and their carers. Medical vehicles must be allowed to transport patients safely.” Juan Carlos Cano, MSF’s head of mission in Mali.

On Wednesday 6 January, our ambulance finally reached the hospital in Sévaré. The other two patients in the vehicle are currently under medical care.

Earlier this week, our teams had treated several seriously injured patients from Bounty and Kikara villages (north-east of Douentza), at the Douentza referral health centre.

The patients, mostly elderly men, had injuries from explosions, shards of metal and gunshot wounds. An MSF team was not present in the area at the time of the events and we are not in a position to confirm the exact circumstances of these incidents, around which there is still a lot of confusion.

Infographic on situation in Mali
Infographic showing the activities MSF does in the Mopti region of central Mali.

Following the violent detention of MSF's ambulance and the deterioration of the security situation in central Mali, we once again call on all parties to the conflict to respect medical and humanitarian aid, medical facilities and the civilian population.

Doctors Without Borders has been working in Mali since 1985. Currently, MSF runs medical and humanitarian projects in the regions of Kidal, Gao (Ansongo), Mopti (Ténenkou, Douentza, Bandiagara, Bankass and Koro), Ségou (Niono) and Sikasso (Koutiala), and also in the capital, Bamako.

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