Drodro, Ituri province, DR Congo. Democratic Republic of Congo news. DRC. M23 rebels
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

MSF calls for the protection of patients, medical facilities and civilians following the Drodro hospital attack.

In an escalation of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province, armed men attacked the town of Drodro on the night of 6 to 7 March, killing a patient in her bed, ransacking the general hospital, and looting medical equipment, says international medical organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF), whose teams work in Drodro Hospital. The attackers also looted another nearby medical facility.

“What has happened here is nothing short of horrifying,” says Stéphanie Giandonato, MSF programme manager for DRC. “We condemn the killing of a defenceless elderly patient in the strongest possible terms and urge all parties to the conflict to respect and protect patients, medical staff, medical facilities, civilians and humanitarian aid workers.”

View of the  General referral hospital of Mweso, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Our medical activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This video provides a glimpse into the challenging medical activities conducted by MSF in a conflict-affected region, where access to healthcare is often disrupted due to the volatile situation.

The surge in violence in and around Drodro has triggered a mass exodus from the area, with thousands of people seeking refuge at Rho camp for displaced people, about 10 km northeast of Drodro. The camp, originally designed to accommodate a maximum of 30,000 people, is now sheltering more than twice that number.

“The consequences for the population are dire,” says Boubacar Mballo, project coordinator for MSF at Drodro. “Drodro hospital can no longer function, leaving people without medical care. In addition, the growing insecurity has effectively cut off the region, resulting in the complete disruption of food and much needed additional water supplies to the overwhelmed Rho camp.”

Drodro, Ituri province, DR Congo. Democratic Republic of Congo news. DRC. M23 rebels
A nurse sits outside on the deserted surroundings, with no patients at the Drodro reference hospital in Ituri, DRC. Date taken: 17/05/2023
MSF/Michel Lunanga

Since yesterday’s attack on Drodro, MSF has temporarily evacuated its staff from the town, but MSF teams continue to provide basic healthcare, stabilisation care for critical cases, sexual and reproductive healthcare, mental health support and water and sanitation services to people sheltering in Rho camp. However, MSF is concerned that this is not sustainable as insecurity worsens and supplies run out.

“We are concerned that people’s access to necessities such as clean drinking water, food and medical care is at risk”, says Boubacar Mballo. “Hence, we emphasize the obligation of all conflicting parties to uphold the respect and protection of the civilian population and medical missions under all circumstances.”