Last week was marked by setbacks for the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, which provides humanitarian aid in more than 70 countries. The organization had three collaborators murdered and, to protect other members from the violence unleashed by armed conflict, it has withdrawn to two countries in which it has operated for decades.
This Monday (28), MSF suspended for a week the activities of its emergency center in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti. The announcement came after the site came under attack over the weekend.
Inaugurated in 2006, the unit is located in the Martissant district, the scene of a wave of conflicts between criminal organizations. No staff or patients were injured, but the NGO evacuated everyone present and stopped activities to assess the situation.
During the last week of May, an MSF employee working at the Tabarre trauma hospital, also in the Haitian capital, was shot dead on his way home. The Martissant center receives more and more wounded from clashes in the region. As the NGO reported earlier this month, the unit received 42 patients with gunshot wounds between June 2 and 4 alone.
In addition to a wave of protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, accused of authoritarianism, the country is also experiencing conflicts between local factions.
“At a time when we should be able to expand our activities due to Covid-19 and other needs, we are struggling to keep our structures open due to the appalling security conditions,” said Alessandra Giudiceandrea, head of the mission of the organization in Haiti.
With 17,963 cases of coronavirus and 400 deaths from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University, the country – the poorest in the West – has yet to start vaccinating its population.
On Friday (25), three MSF collaborators were murdered in Tigre province, in northern Ethiopia, where an armed conflict between the national army and local troops has lasted for more than seven months. A few days earlier, an air raid on a local market had killed at least 64 people.
According to the organization, the employees stopped making contact on Thursday evening and the next day the car in which they were driving was found empty, with their bodies a few meters away.
“Maria, Yohannes and Tedros [nomes dos colaboradores mortos] they were helping the population, and it is unthinkable that they lost their lives because of it, ”MSF said in a statement. Between November and April alone, when the conflicts intensified, the NGO provided 86,000 medical consultations in Tigre.
Earlier, on June 22, MSF also announced an indefinite suspension of its activities in two migrant detention centers in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Members of the organization claim to have witnessed abuse and physical abuse by officers.
“An unaccompanied immigrant boy was unable to walk after suffering severe ankle injuries,” the NGO said in a statement. “Until the abuses against the incarcerated people stop and the safety conditions of our staff improve, we cannot continue to provide medical services.”
The country has experienced deep instability since 2011, when an uprising supported by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) resulted in the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and became the main point of migrant smuggling in South Africa. North, from where tens of thousands of people trying to reach Europe.
Since then, detention camps have been known for violence against migrants.