© MSF/Solen Mourlon
26 Nov 21 11 May 22

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ituri: Insecurity leaves people deprived of basic medical care

November 26th, 2021- On 28 October, unknown attackers targeted a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) convoy leaving two aid workers injured on the road of Bambou, in Ituri. The attack took place as the MSF vehicle was returning from an area where our teams had been responding to people’s needs. Currently, the perpetrators and their motives are still unknown.

On the road between the general referral hospital in the Nizi area and the health centre in Luchay supported by an MSF nurse. (January 2020).

“Today, we do not have safe access in the area so we cannot relaunch activities,” says Stéphane Hauser, MSF project coordinator in Nizi.

MSF calls on authorities

“There is a need of engagement from all parties of the conflict to ensure the safety of aid workers with no exceptions,” he says.

Since the attack, MSF activities supporting the Ministry of Public Health in the region of Bambou and Nizi have been suspended. As a result, medical teams will no longer access these two locations and will not relaunch activities until further notice.

The Kambe IDP site created in July 2019 following a new wave of violence. (January, 2020).

In the meantime, MSF has called on the competent authorities to launch an investigation into the incident in Bambou.

For the past four years, MSF has been working to provide medical care to  wounded people affected by the conflict in Ituri, on both sides of the front line.

Forced suspension of activities

“The forced suspension of activities is depriving people of a minimum medical assistance that our activities were previously ensuring,” says Hauser.

“We are outraged that wounded and sick people may once again pay the price of this insecurity,” he says.

MSF teams identified the most urgent needs of the population and put together the kit for distribution. (January, 2020).

In order to meet the needs of the people affected by a deadly conflict, it is essential that access be facilitated and secured in all disputed areas, where our humanitarian action is guided by the principles of neutrality and impartiality.

Need for understanding

Violence has been raging in Ituri province since 2017, particularly in areas where MSF is managing projects. “In order for MSF to resume activities, there needs to be immediate understanding and acceptance of our humanitarian aid and principles.

“This must be clarified quickly so that we can establish whether the conditions allow for us to safely return,” says Hauser.

A doctor in charge of medical activities at the general referral hospital of the Nizi area, performs a puncture in the left lung of a young 14-year-old patient following a lung infection. (January, 2020).

MSF calls on the FARDC*, CODECO* and all stakeholders involved in the conflict in Ituri to ensure that the safety are met in order to allow the resumption of humanitarian aid throughout the province.

Doctors without borders/Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) works according to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence.

MSF supports four general hospitals

In Ituri province, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, MSF supports four general hospitals (HGR), 12 health centres, three health posts and 32 community healthcare sites in the health zones of Drodro, Nizi and Angumu for the treatment of paediatric diseases, malnutrition, malaria, sexual violence and mental health.

External view of the paediatrics department of the general referral hospital of the Nizi area. (January 2020).

MSF's activities in Nizi and Bambou have provided care for more than 470,000 people, including nearly 175,000 in Nizi, 176,000 in Bambou and 120,000 internally displaced people.

Within this project, MSF teams carried out more than 33,000 consultations in the first half of 2021 and conducted 21,229 awareness sessions.

*FARDC: Armed Forces of the Republic democratic of the Congo/ CODECO : Cooperative for Development of the Congo.