Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has suspended their activities in part of the Ituri province in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, following an attack on one of their vehicles.
The attack took place on 28 October, according to a press release from MSF.
A team of five MSF staff travelled to Bambu to assist isolated communities, and when they were travelling back in the afternoon, unidentified gunmen fired at the MSF vehicle for an unexplained reason, with two members of the team sustaining bullet wounds.
The two injured aid workers have received medical attention and are in a stable condition, MSF reports, and the entire team was later evacuated to the town of Bunia.
“This is unacceptable,” said Frédéric Lai Manantsoa, MSF Head of Mission in Ituri. “We condemn all forms of violence against the medical mission, our patients and staff.”
Manantsoa said they are “shocked by this news and alarmed at the violence that is raging in the province,” adding that this is the second serious incident to occur there within the past few months but that this time it involved “a vehicle clearly identified as medical and humanitarian.”
The convoy came under fire even though it was clearly showing the MSF name and emblem.
Last June, the General Referral Hospital of Boga, which was the last remaining health facility in the district, was looted and destroyed. MSF had coordinated its rehabilitation over many years— work which was undone in a matter of minutes.
“Violence against civilians is a constant fact of life in this area and insecurity is growing, but still we need to try to reach people who need medical care,” Manantsoa said in a statement.
MSF has decided to temporarily suspend its activities in the health zone of Bambu.
In Ituri, they support three general hospitals, 12 health centers, four health posts and 32 community health posts in the Drodro, Nizi and Angumu health districts, providing pediatric care and mental health services, treatment for malnutrition and malaria, and assistance for survivors of sexual violence.