Weapon-toting intruders at a hospital in war torn Central African Republic (CAR) drew grave condemnation from the United Nations humanitarian coordinator on the ground, calling it "an outrageous violation of international humanitarian law."
Armed groups entered the Regional Hospital of Bambari in the city centre on Saturday, after previously threatening medical staff and patients Thursday and looting nine humanitarian organizations as well as the National Refugee Commission during the month of May.
"I hold these armed groups directly responsible for this intrusion for any medical complications and life-threatening conditions of patients" Humanitarian Coordinator Najat Rochdi stated Saturday.
Recalling that at in accordance with the principle of humanity and impartiality, health care is granted to all patients, she called their actions "inhuman and unworthy."
For five years, conflict has plagued the country - with violence intensifying over the past year.
According to preliminary estimates, since this incident, relatives have removed some 30 vulnerable patients from their hospital beds, depriving them of medical care.
Ms. Rochdi stressed that civilian hospitals care for the wounded and sick, and should under no circumstances be attacked. She emphasized that they must be respected and protected by the conflict's parties.
This latest incident constitutes an additional challenge for humanitarian action in Bambari, particularly for medical assistance.
"The population is once again 'held hostage' by the impact of clashes between armed groups since May 14. Populations are being cut off from the assistance they are so much need in for," deplored Ms. Rochdi.
"I call upon the perpetrators of these acts to put the interest of the population above their differences," stressed the Humanitarian Coordinator.