"We are no longer able to work in accordance with our principles of neutrality and impartiality," said Ewenn Chenard, Emergency Coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières. We regret this decision, but the presence of armed forces around and within the health structures of Biakato goes against our principles. "
MSF has been working with the population of Biakato since 2016, supporting the Ministry of Health. Initially, MSF activities were dedicated to assisting victims of sexual violence. However, since the start of the Ebola epidemic, MSF has expanded its operations, not only managing suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola, and implementing hygiene and infection control measures in several health facilities in the region, but also by offering free primary health and pediatric hospital care.
The security deployment in the Biakato region follows the tragic events of November 27 to 28, 2019 during which three Ebola responders were murdered.
“We are aware that a solution is needed to ensure the protection of the civilian population and the safety of medical personnel after the tragic events of November. However, we firmly believe that military presence in health facilities undermines the neutrality and impartiality of medical aid. It is essential that health structures remain free of weapons so that communities feel safe to come and seek care,” concludes Ewenn Chenard.
MSF has worked in Ituri since 2003, providing life-saving care to the most vulnerable populations. In support of the Ministry of Health, MSF is currently intervening in the context of the measles epidemic, with displaced persons from the territories of Djugu and Mahagi, for victims of sexual violence in the Mambasa region, as well as in the fight against the Ebola outbreak.