News / Africa

MSF: CAR Aid Efforts Have Failed

Muslim Children are lifted into a truck that had fallen into a ditch while turning around in Bangui, Central African Republic, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.
Muslim Children are lifted into a truck that had fallen into a ditch while turning around in Bangui, Central African Republic, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A medical aid group says global efforts to protect civilians in Central African Republic have been an “utter failure.” Doctors Without Borders is calling on the international community to mobilize immediately to stop atrocities.


Civilians in CAR are regularly targeted by both sides in the conflict. Armed groups – known as anti-balaka – launched revenge attacks late last year against Seleka rebels. The rebels’ offensive in 2013 led to the ouster of President Francois Bozize and the brief presidency of Michel Djotodia, the former Seleka leader.

The Seleka are mostly Muslim, while the anti-balaka have been described as mix of Christians and those practicing traditional religion. The violence has displaced about one million people and slowed humanitarian efforts.

Doctors Without Borders – also known by the French acronym MSF – held a briefing Tuesday to describe the situation in the country.

MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu recently returned from CAR. She said, “I’ve never seen throughout the last few years such [a] high level of violence. There is violence on a daily basis happening on civilian[s] and there is an acute lack of protection for civilians.”

She said MSF patients are in constant danger.

“The reality is, right now, if we are absent from our hospital[s], our patient[s] are in danger. This is something that is really unusual from what I’ve seen over the last few years.”

The medical group is working in 16 locations in CAR with a staff of more than 2,200.

“Over the last few months, as of December 5th, we have treated more than 3,600 wounded in our facilities,” said Liu.

She visited the town of Bozoum and found a number of injured Muslim civilians in hiding.

Liu said, “We drove into the neighborhood and found lined up in the backyard 17 people with injuries. Some of them had sustained machete injuries -- others had sustained gunshot wounds and other[s] had grenade injuries. And basically they were waiting in silence, not moaning, not saying anything -- just waiting to be rescued. And it was clear to me that if I was not doing everything I could to save their lives they would not have moved and tried to save their lives.”

She said she’s seen many similar situations -- wounded and scared people often huddling near a mosque or church.

“Right now,” she said, “a lot of them have decided to flee the country. So there’s been some organized massive exodus toward neighboring countries, either Chad or Cameroon. As of today we count close to 100,000 people who have left the country. They have to pick between living with the fear of dying tomorrow or fleeing for their [lives] and most of them have picked their [lives].”

Liu said that MSF had tried long before the current crisis to get the international community to pay more attention to Central African Republic. The country, she said, faced many serious health concerns.

The MSF International President added that peacekeeping troops are not always effective in preventing violence against civilians. The group said the international community must do more.

The U.N. has approved expanding the African Union force in CAR to 6,000. The French have 1,600 soldiers there, and the EU is expected to send about 1,000 in the coming weeks.

Liu said despite the insecurity, the ability of MSF to work in many locations shows that increasing humanitarian assistance is feasible. She says international mobilization is “needed now – not in one month, not in six months.” She says, “A massive catastrophe is unfolding in full view of international leaders.”

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid