In central Mali a Médecins Sans Frontière (MSF) Ambulance transporting three patients was violently stopped by armed men which led to the death of one of the patients onboard. MSF strongly condemns this serious obstruction of medical aid that occurred on 5 January, and calls on all parties involved in the conflict to respect humanitarian and medical action and the civilian population.
The ambulance, which was clearly identifiable with the MSF logo, was taking three patients who had been seriously injured on 3 January in Douentza region to the hospital in Sévaré. A nurse from the Ministry of Health, a healthcare worker and the driver were also in the vehicle. They were tied up and assaulted by armed men and then left under the scorching sun for several hours before they were released. One of the patients, a man in his sixties, died during the detention.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of violence against our patients, our staff and medical aid workers in general,” said Juan Carlos Cano, MSF’s head of mission in Mali. “We are very shocked and call on the parties to the conflict to respect the ambulances, medical staff, patients and their carers. Medical vehicles must be allowed to transport patients safely.”
On Wednesday 6 January, the MSF ambulance finally reached the hospital in Sévaré where the other two patients were hospitalized.
Earlier in the week, at the Douentza health centre, MSF staff treated several seriously injured patients from the villages of di Bounty e Kikara, northeast of Douentza. The patients, mostly elderly, had injuries from explosions, metal shrapnel and gunshot wounds. The MSF team was not present during the attack and cannot confirm or deny the events around which there is still much confusion.
“The region of central Mali has become the deadliest in the country for the civilian population,” said Juan Carlos Cano. “This latest deterioration of the security situation is further complicating the already extremely limited access that thousands of Malians have to essential medical care.”
Following the violent detention of the ambulance and the deteriorating safety conditions in central Mali,
MSF once again call on all parties to the conflict to respect medical and humanitarian aid, medical facilities and civilians.