The last week was one of setbacks for the NGO Doctors Without Borders, 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 conflicts, it retreated in two nations in which it has operated for decades.
This Monday (28), the organization suspended for a week the activities of its emergency center in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti. The announcement came after the site was the target of an 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 members or patients were injured, but the NGO evacuated everyone present and stopped activities to assess the situation.
In the last week of May, an MSF employee working at the trauma hospital in Tabarre, also in the Haitian capital, was shot dead on his way home. The Martissant center has been taking in more and more wounded from clashes in the region. As reported by the NGO at the beginning of the month, the unit received 42 patients with gunshot wounds between the 2nd and 4th of June alone.
In addition to a wave of demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, accused of authoritarianism, the country is also witnessing conflicts between local factions.
“At a time when we should be able to expand our activities because of Covid-19 and other needs, we are struggling to keep our structures open due to the deplorable security conditions,” said Alessandra Giudiceandrea, head of the organization’s mission in Haiti.
With 17,963 coronavirus cases 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 employees of Médecins Sans Frontières were murdered in Tigre province, in northern Ethiopia, where an armed conflict between the national army and local troops has been going on for more than seven months. A few days earlier, an air raid on a local market had left at least 64 dead.
According to the organization, the employees stopped making contact on Thursday night and, the following day, the car in which they were traveling was found empty, with their bodies a few meters away.
“Mary, Yohannes and Tedros [nomes dos colaboradores mortos] they were helping the population, and it is unthinkable that they lost their lives because of it,” the organization said in a statement. Only between November and April, when the conflicts intensified, the NGO provided 86 thousand medical consultations in Tigre.
Earlier, on June 22, Médecins Sans Frontières 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 committed by agents.
“An unaccompanied immigrant boy was unable to walk after suffering serious ankle injuries,” the NGO said in a statement. “Until the abuses against incarcerated people stop and the security conditions of our staff improve, we cannot continue providing medical services.”
The country has experienced profound instability since 2011, when an uprising supported by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) led to the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and became the main point of migrant smuggling in North Africa, from where tens of thousands of people trying to reach Europe.
Since then, detention camps have been known for the violence used against migrants.