19 May 2016 – Médecins Sans Frontières condemns, in the strongest terms, the ambush against its team in Central African Republic (CAR), during which one of our staff members was killed.
On Wednesday 18 May a well-identified Médecins Sans Frontières convoy of two vehicles transporting staff and patients was stopped by armed men in Kouki, 82 km north of Bossangoa. The team was forced out of the cars and onto the ground. They were robbed of personal belongings and medication. In the course of the incident, which lasted for more than 40 minutes, one of the drivers was shot and killed.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that a team of medical workers and their patients were attacked while returning from providing lifesaving medical care,” says Michelle Chouinard, Médecins Sans Frontières' head of mission in CAR. “It is outrageous that one of our staff members was killed during this act of violence. The team and their patients endured prolonged harassment, including bullets shot close to their heads and repeated verbal threats that they would be killed.”
As a result of this act of violence, we have been forced to suspend activities in the area until such time as we receive adequate guarantees for the safety for our staff and the acceptance of our medical and humanitarian activities. “Humanitarian workers should be protected from harm while undertaking their mission in violence-affected areas,” says Chouinard. We are collecting information about the circumstances of the incident and will make no further comment until all details are confirmed. We expect a full inquiry by the local police and authorities and the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Médecins Sans Frontières is shocked and deeply saddened by this serious security incident. We extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of the Médecins Sans Frontières staff member who was killed.