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One year after the attack of a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) supported hospital in Boguila, Central African Republic (CAR), MSF has scaled back activities, but continues to provide much needed medical care to the region devastated by violent conflict.
The attack, which took place on 26April 2014, was an armed robbery in which 19 civilians, including three MSF staff members, were killed.
Here, three of the Boguila hospital staff who were present on the day of the attacks tell us of their experiences, and reflect on why they continue to work with MSF in CAR.
“The day of the incident at the hospital was terrible – the worst day of my life. While I was still at home getting ready for work, I saw some cars arriving in Boguila and later I heard gunshots.
Now, when I hear loud noises nearby, I am afraid and I want to escape. I have already run away a couple of times over the past few months, when there have been rumours of armed people arriving in town.
I’ve also had to flee with work colleagues to the bush for several hours. It´s very hard to work like this, but people’s health needs are huge, and MSF is the only health provider.
Lots of patients come here, many of them children. Without healthcare, without MSF in Boguila, our children would be like dead leaves falling from a tree.”
“During the attack, I was having a break at the house near the hospital. The gunshots became louder and more intense. I was so afraid – I thought it was the end of my life.
We stayed on the floor for 45 minutes. Only when it was silent were we able to go and see what had happened.
On the way, a colleague told us of the death of another colleague and asked us to go and check on the wounded. We brought three of them, still alive, to the inpatient ward for treatment. I keep working with MSF in order to help my people, who desperately need healthcare.”
“One of the colleagues who was killed was my friend. I stayed for two days to organise the laboratory, and then I went back to Bangui. My family is there, including my brothers, sisters and cousins.
The day I arrived in Bangui, a man was killed in the street near me as I made my way home, and my cousin pointed out that this was no different from what I had experienced in Boguila. Violence is everywhere.
After the incident, I didn’t think about stopping working for MSF, but I did reflect on the risks and whether I wanted to continue taking these. I realised that in my country we are all at risk.
I have known people die both from fighting and from illness due to a lack of medications and healthcare.
I want to keep working with MSF. By doing so, I can continue to develop as a professional, and I can provide support to the people in my country, who without MSF would have no access to healthcare.”
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