DRC : Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) denounces the acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population in the Masisi territory

October 3, 2013

DRC : Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) denounces the acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population in the Masisi territory © Mathieu Fortoul

Brussels, 1 October 2013 – Armed groups clashed on Friday 27 September 2013, in the chieftainship of Osso-Banyungu, in the North Kivu territory of Masisi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Attacks against the civilians have also taken place in the villages of Butemure, Lwibo, Bikudje, Majengo and Katiri. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) immediately organised mobile clinics in order to provide emergency care to the people affected by these violent acts and is calling on the armed groups to respect the civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Several dozen victims were attacked, including women and children. A number of people are reported wounded. It is difficult to confirm the number of dead, wounded and missing because many villagers fled in the bush out of fear of further attacks. A woman confided “I heard the neighbours shouting out that the army was arriving. I ran to the field to join my husband. But when I got there, he was nowhere to be seen. All I found was his hat and blood-stained tools”. Others told the MSF workers that 46 children and 3 teachers had reportedly been kidnapped after their school was burnt down.

In the course of the armed raid, a bridge was destroyed as inhabitants were crossing it in order to escape. A villager of Lwibo told us “I saw my son fall from the bridge. Armed men used machetes to destroy the last ropes which were holding up the bridge. Just before, on the plateau, they slit men’s throats before throwing them into the water”.

The day after the attack, MSF treated over 80 patients in the village of Lwibo and dealt with 9 victims of sexual violence. A team also visited the village of Bikudje where two people were wounded and around thirty reported missing. The MSF teams are still trying to assess the scale of these attacks and the number of injured men and women in order to adapt their medical responses. “Several villages are only accessible by foot and we are afraid we’ll arrive there too late. Nonetheless, it already seems clear that acts of violence have been perpetrated against the civilians and we cannot remain silent when confronted with that” says Bertrand Perrochet, MSF Head of Mission in DRC. “The armed groups present in the region must respect the civilian populations in accordance with international humanitarian law” he adds.

The Masisi territory is the scene of recurring violence and permanent insecurity, which mean people are forced to flee their villages. In August, more than one million internally displaced persons were estimated to be in North Kivu. 

Since 2007 MSF supports and provides free primary and secondary healthcare to the general referral hospital of Masisi. Between January and August 2013, MSF treated more than 8800 patients, performed 1717 surgical operations and carried out more than 86000 consultations. MSF also runs mobile clinics in the region to meet the evolving needs.    

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