The town of Masisi is the capital of the territory of the same name, located in North Kivu province, in the northeast of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

North Kivu province - the epicentre of wars that have shattered the east of DRC for 24 years - the security context remains uncertain, with around 70 armed groups fighting for control of a very large territory

MSF has been working in Masisi since 2007 to provide free and high-quality healthcare to people facing the consequences of the conflict that has affected this region for two decades. MSF supports Masisi general referral hospital and health centre, as well as Nyabiondo referral health centre.

Within these facilities, MSF teams provide surgery, internal medicine, gynaecology, maternity, paediatrics, neonatology, cholera care, nutrition treatment, and emergency services with an ambulance.

A three days event took place in Masisi to celebrate those ten years of intervention and MSF’s activities and involvement in this conflict affected zone, addressing patients, local community.

DRC 10 Year Project
Women waiting to give birth at the ‘welcome village’ for pregnant women at the Masisi Hospital in The Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Photo by: Sara Creta

MSF has been working in Masisi, in Nord Kivu region, since 2007 to guarantee free of charge, high-quality medical cares to the conflict affected the population. 

After ten years, the humanitarian needs that triggered the launch of the project in Masisi are still present. Twenty-four years of incessant fighting, two decades of killings, violence, looting of civilians and displacement have plunged the population of this region into a condition of extreme vulnerability. 

In 2007, there was an upsurge in violence in North Kivu as fighting escalated between the FARDC and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP - Congrès national pour la défense du peuple), a group led by Laurent Nkunda.

DRC, MSF 10 years project
Jean, 54 years old, gun wounded patient in the Masisi hospital, North Kivu. Photo by: Sara Creta

The fighting worsened the humanitarian situation: the population, in a state of extreme vulnerability, was exposed to continuous violence, while malnutrition grew and cholera spread in various regions of North Kivu.

Tens of thousands of displaced people sought refuge from the conflict in Masisi.

Given the level of violence, many aid organisations suspended their activities, while many health centres stopped receiving supplies and some ceased to function altogether as health staff fled.

DRC, MSF 10 Years Project
Women are waiting at the MSF supported hospital in Masisi, North Kivu, DRC. Photo by: Sara Creta

Access to healthcare in the region, which was already limited, shrank even further.

It was in this context that MSF started working in Masisi in 2007, providing support to Masisi general referral hospital.

After an alarming increase in malnutrition in the Masisi area, linked to people being displaced by the conflict and having no access to healthcare, MSF launched a nutrition programme in 2007 with a particular focus on children.

10 years in Masisi
A newborn in the MSF supported Masisi hospital in North Kivu province, DRC. Photo by: Sara Creta

Testimony

In late June 2017, BM’s two children, aged four and two, were admitted to the emergency room of Masisi general referral hospital with gunshot wounds. The older child had been shot in the back, the younger child in the neck.

DRC Nord Kivu
Gun wounded 5 years old patient and his sister 3 years old were received at the emergency room at the MSF supported Masisi hospital, North Kivu. Photo by: Sara Creta

“We live in a village in Walikale territory. One night I saw armed men in my house – I don’t know how they got in. As soon as I saw them I grabbed my two youngest children and tried to take cover under the bed.

My eight-year-old son tried to do the same, but the men shot him. The bullet hit him in the chest and he fell next to the bed.

They fired towards the bed where we were hiding. My two-year-old son and his brother of four were hit by bullets. I shouted, ‘You’re killing me and all my children’, and they replied, ‘All you have to do is die!’

While some of the armed men were shooting, others were searching my house, looking for money or valuables. My husband had managed to flee the house.

I heard the men leave. Then I heard voices telling me to come out because the shooting had stopped. I was scared and wondered if it was still those thugs who were lying to get me out, or if it was my neighbours, kind people of good will.

In doubt, I stayed a while longer under the bed. I finally came out when I saw neighbours entering the house to help us.

My neighbours helped me carry my injured children to the health centre. The night was still dark and we walked for about an hour before reaching the centre.

There they provided first aid to my children. Then they started asking me for money. I wasn’t in a position to pay what they were asking, so I decided to go to Maya health centre, where the MSF ambulance comes.

DRC Nord Kivu
Gun wounded 5 years old patient and his sister 3 years old were received at the emergency room at the MSF supported Masisi hospital, North Kivu. Photo by: Sara Creta

Before leaving for Maya, I went back home for the funeral of my son who was killed. We buried him, and I left for Maya with my two injured children.

We walked from four in the afternoon until four the following morning. Then the MSF ambulance picked us up and brought us to the hospital.

My children received treatment at Masisi general referral hospital. They are a bit better now. I hope they can forget about this tragic incident. So far they haven’t talked about it.

My four-year-old just told his older sister – who wasn’t living with us, she has just joined us here at the hospital – that their brother was killed, that he died because he was shot.

As soon as they are better, I will go back with them to Maya, the village where I was born.

I don’t want to go back to Walikale territory – we moved there for my husband’s job. Now I absolutely don’t want to go back there.”


MSF has been working in Masisi since 2007 to provide free and high-quality healthcare to people facing the consequences of the conflict that has affected this region for two decades.

MSF supports Masisi general referral hospital and health centre, as well as Nyabiondo referral health centre.

Within these facilities, MSF teams provide surgery, internal medicine, gynaecology, maternity, paediatrics, neonatology, cholera care, nutrition treatment, and emergency services with an ambulance.

Beyond the hospital and health centres, MSF manages mobile clinics to provide healthcare to excluded populations and to ensure quick and flexible assistance, including malaria treatment.

MSF teams also work in various health centres to provide care and support to victims of sexual violence.

Find out more about MSF's work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.