Congo-Kinshasa: DRC, Ituri – Insecurity leaves people deprived of basic medical care

On October 28, unknown assailants targeted a Médecins Sans Frontières / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) convoy, leaving two aid workers injured on the road to Bambou, Ituri. The attack took place as the MSF vehicle was returning from an area where our teams were meeting the needs of the population. Currently, the perpetrators and their motivations are still unknown.

“Today, we do not have secure access to the area so we cannot restart activities,” explains Stéphane Hauser, coordinator of the MSF project in Nizi. “There is a need for engagement of all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers without exception,” he said.

Since the attack, MSF’s activities in support of the Ministry of Public Health in the Bambou and Nizi region have been suspended. As a result, medical teams will no longer access these two locations and will not restart activities until further notice. In the meantime, MSF has called on the competent authorities to open an investigation into the Bambou incident.

For four years, MSF has worked to treat the wounded affected by the conflict in Ituri, on both sides of the front line. “The forced suspension of activities deprives people of the minimal medical assistance that our activities previously provided,” says Hauser.

“We are outraged that the wounded and sick can once again pay the price for this insecurity,” he said.

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

Violence has raged in Ituri province since 2017, particularly in areas where MSF runs projects. “For MSF to resume its activities, there must be an immediate understanding and acceptance of our aid and our humanitarian principles.

“This needs to be clarified quickly so that we can determine whether conditions allow us to return safely,” says Hauser.

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

Médecins sans frontières / Médecins sans frontières (MSF) works according to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence. In Ituri province, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, MSF supports four general hospitals (HGR), 12 health centers, three health posts and 32 community health sites in the Drodro health zones , Nizi and Angumu for the treatment of pediatric diseases, malnutrition, malaria, sexual violence and mental health.

MSF’s activities in Nizi and Bambou have helped treat more than 470,000 people, including nearly 175,000 in Nizi, 176,000 in Bambou and 120,000 internally displaced persons. As part of this project, MSF teams carried out more than 33,000 consultations in the first half of 2021 and carried out 21,229 awareness sessions.