22 November 2017

Central African Republic: Civilians Die After Last Aid Agency Evacuates Town

Photo: Philip Kleinfeld/IRIN
Refugee Roseline Zimba

Dakar — "Leaving the population utterly abandoned is a painful admission"

Four patients have died and thousands are stranded without healthcare in an embattled Central African Republic town, after an attack forced the last charity working there to pull out.

The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has evacuated its staff and suspended its programmes after its base in Bangassou was violently robbed on Monday night, it said.

"This was a really tough decision for us, but we cannot put the lives of our staff on the line," MSF's head of mission Frederic Lai Manantsoa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Leaving the population utterly abandoned is a painful admission."

The southeastern diamond-mining town, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, has witnessed some of the deadliest clashes this year between rival militias, as violence has escalated throughout the country.

Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled a conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian militias.

Half a million people in the region depended on MSF for health services and more than 50 urgently needed surgery or were in intensive care when doctors and nurses left them in the hospital, MSF said. Four patients have already died, it said.

Manantsoa said the evacuated staff are in the capital Bangui and he does not know when they will return to Bangassou.

MSF was the last aid organisation working in Bangassou as violence has pushed others out in recent months, said Joseph Inganji, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Central African Republic.

The U.N. approved the deployment of an extra 900 peacekeepers to protect civilians in Central African Republic last week, and has warned that ethnic fighting could descend again into a much larger conflict.

The area is controlled by armed groups fighting over land and resources who frequently target civilians, it says.

People rely on aid organisations for everything from clean water to delivering babies, OCHA's Inganji said.

"This is going to have a very serious impact," he said via phone from Bangui.

"Who will provide health and sanitation to these people?"

Reporting by Nellie Peyton. Editing by Katy Migiro

Central African Republic

'I Just Want to Live Like a Normal Man'- What's Stopping CAR Disarming?

Speaking to combatants in the Central African Republic reveals their true motivations for taking up arms. Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.