MSF Quits CAR Hospital Following Supply Convoy Ambush

The international humanitarian organisation handed back control of a hospital and two clinics after there was no improvement in the security situation after a supply convoy was robbed in January

The humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontiere (MSF) has pulled all of its staff out of a town in the Central African Republic and handed a hospital it was running back to the government.

The move comes after MSF reduced its presence in the area around the town of Kabo following an attack on one of its convoys earlier this year. 

The organisation that provides health services to people in areas torn by conflict had continued to run a hospital and two health clinics after gunmen attacked vehicles delivering medical supplies in January. MSF decided to pull out completely after the insecurity continued. 

The decision to finally quit the area has brought an end to 16 years of support for the local population. The hospital and two health clinics were handed back to the government at the beginning of October 

According to a press statement by MSF, their decision to quit the hospital follows an attack on one of the organisation’s convoys on the Batangafo-Kabo highway by a group of unidentified gunmen. The convoy was robbed and shots were fired, but no one was injured in the incident. The hospital and clinics had to be resupplied by road as the nearby Kabo airport was no longer safe to use.

Besides the Kabo hospital, the health centres of Farazala and Moyenne-Sido in the Ouham-Fafa prefecture were also handed over to the Central African Republic government.

During the last 16 years the medical and humanitarian organisation carried out more than 1.7 million medical consultations and invested more than $36 million in the town’s health facilities, according to a statement.

“The Ministry of Health and Population, is since October 1, entirely responsible for the management of the Kabo hospital and MSF will follow the situation in coordination with the authorities by making material gifts and drugs and will continue to support the cost of personnel of the three structures until December 2023”, declared the French humanitarian organisation, adding that it is with regret that it has left the Kabo sub prefecture where it always felt appreciated by the community.

“We warmly thank the population for the confidence that they accorded us during all these years”, declared Romain Briey, chief of the MSF mission in the Central African Republic.

MSF had been supporting the Kabo hospital since 2006 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Population by assisting in a majority of the services as well as the Farazala and Moyenne-Sido health centres in the Ouham-Fafa prefecture.

This support comprised of free consultations, taking charge of paediatric treatment up to the age of fifteen years, feeding of children of six to 59 months, maternity services, vaccination of children up to two years, emergency services for victims of violence and the follow-up of HIV, TB and other patients of chronic diseases.

Between 2006 and June 2022, MSF teams treated more than 830,000 patients against malaria, assisted in about 21,000 births, effected about 10,200 mental health consultations and undertook more than 3,000 surgeries.

During the course of their 16 years in Kabo, access to quality health care profoundly improved in the Kabo sub prefecture and health personnel, both local and those of the Ministry of Health and Population benefitted from regular training.

MSF hopes that the Central African Republic health authorities will continue to offer quality health services to the local populations.

“Despite our departure from Kabo, we reaffirm our engagement to continue to furnish assistance to respond to the critical medical and humanitarian needs in the Central African Republic”, said Romain Briey.

“We take this opportunity to recall to all the parties in conflict, the necessity to protect and respect the health and humanitarian personnel, the nurses, the medical structures and the civilian populations”, the MSF official concluded.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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