13 January 2013

Mali: MSF Calls for Warring Parties to Respect the Safety of Civilians

press release

Bamako/Brussels/Paris — Following violent fighting in Konna and bombardments in Lere and then in Douentza and Gao, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on all the parties to the conflict in Mali to respect the safety of civilians and to leave health facilities untouched.

In Douentza, a town northeast of Mopti, the bombardments began again on Sunday morning. An MSF medical team is currently supporting work at the hospital there.

"Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital," says Rosa Crestani, MSF emergency response coordinator. "We are worried about the people living close to the combat zones and we call on all the parties to the conflict to respect the safety of civilians and to leave medical facilities untouched."

During the night between 10 and 11 January, MSF received "several phone calls alerting us to numerous fatalities and wounded in Konna, including civilians," adds Dr Mego Terzian, MSF's emergency operations manager.

MSF has delivered two trucks of medical supplies and drugs to the medical facilities in the Mopti area. It seems that many residents of the Mopti area have fled the fighting and some places have become almost ghost towns. MSF is doing all it can to find the displaced so that it can offer medical assistance via mobile clinics.

Following the bombing in Lere, further to the north, several hundred people have crossed the border into Mauritania. MSF's teams in Mauritania have initiated their emergency response plan and are currently on site providing assistance.

"Already 200 refugees have arrived by car or truck at Fassala camp, in Mauritania," says Karl Nawezi, head of MSF's programmes in Mauritania. "The latest arrivals have told us that there are many more refugees who were unable to find a vehicle and who are fleeing on foot towards the border."

In addition to running medical activities around Mopti and Douentza, MSF teams are working in the regions of Timbuktu and Gao. In Timbuktu MSF is working in the reference hospital, where the team has treated a dozen wounded in the fighting, which is taking place more than seven hours' drive away.

Other teams are working in nine community health centres in the surrounding area. MSF is also donating drugs and medical supplies, and the teams are trying to reinforce medical and surgical support in areas close to the conflict zones.

Bombing also took place over the weekend in the towns of Gao and Ansongo, in Gao region. MSF is supporting a reference hospital in Ansongo with emergency and basic healthcare and is supporting two health centres - one of them on the outskirts of Gao town - and runs a mobile clinic in the region.

For several months MSF teams have been working in Mali in the regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Douentza, focusing on surgery and medical and nutritional activities. MSF is also working in the south of the country, running nutrition programmes in the area around Koutiala and providing assistance for Malian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.

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