NEW YORK—Following clashes on Wednesday between armed groups in Central African Republic (CAR), more than 10,000 people fled their homes and are seeking refuge in the compound of a hospital in Batangafo supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Violent clashes between armed groups in northern CAR on October 31 led to the burning of three camps for internally displaced people, numerous homes, and a marketplace. In Batangafo, MSF treated 20 patients, including ten requiring emergency surgery. Among these people, two died as a result of severe burns.
Also on October 31, violence flared around Bambari, in the center of the country. MSF teams on the ground treated 12 wounded.
This latest outbreak of violence ends a period of relative calm in Batangafo and is the latest example of a concerning increase in fighting this year in Bambari. As violence continues to directly affect civilians, there are few safe places to find refuge. It is critical that all parties to the conflict stop attacks on civilians and on medical facilities.
“The situation in Batangafo and Bambari remains very tense. The protection of the population and the medical mission remain our primary concerns,” said Omar Ahmed Abenza, MSF head of mission in CAR. “We managed to treat the wounded who arrived, but the tensions in these two cities are still very much in evidence. We call for the continued cooperation of all parties to the conflict to provide assistance to all those who need it.”
To meet the initial needs of these displaced people and to fight against diseases related to precarious living conditions such as diarrhea and respiratory infections, MSF has set up additional sanitary facilities, such as latrines and showers, at Batangafo hospital. A medical team continues to provide care to those in need.
“The humanitarian situation in CAR remains worrying and this latest outbreak of violence is likely to further threaten the already extremely precarious displaced communities that today lack food, shelter, and other basic necessities,” Abenza said.
MSF has been working in CAR since 1997, where there are currently some 570,000 refugees and almost 690,000 internally displaced people among a population of approximately 4.5 million. MSF operates with independence and impartiality, and is not affiliated with any political, military, or religious groups. MSF manages twelve projects in seven prefectures across CAR. In the first quarter of 2018, MSF provided more than 377,000 free outpatient consultations and treated more than 270,000 malaria patients throughout the country.
Photo: View of a camp in the aftermath of an attack, showing burnt area in northern Central African Republic 2018. Source: MSF/Helena Cardellach.