“It’s sad but there are times when you don’t have a choice: a dead doctor no longer treats. » The announcement by Benoît Wasser, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Haiti, is raw but invincible, reflecting the chaos affecting NGO members facing extreme gang violence in this Caribbean country.
MSF announced on Friday 27 January that it was suspending its activities at a hospital in the town of Carrefour, west of the capital Port-au-Prince, following a dramatic incident the day before. Armed men entered the hospital premises “Draged a gunshot patient out of the emergency room and shot him in the head and killed him in cold blood”the NGO said in a press release.
The facts, which occurred in the middle of the afternoon, constitute the second tragedy of its kind in less than six months at this hospital located in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, near areas under total control of the gangs.
“As soon as we cannot guarantee the safety, neither of our patients nor of our teams, we cannot continue to work”Agence France-Presse (AFP) expressed condolences for Benoît Vasseur.
Nearly 800,000 people affected by free care
Present in the Caribbean country for more than thirty years, NGOs are often the only healthcare offering for hundreds of thousands of Haitians who cannot afford the fees of private structures. The end of MSF services at this hospital means that approximately 800,000 people will no longer have access to emergency, quality and free care, Mr. Wasspour said.
Armed gangs, which control more than half of Haitian territory, have used their growing power in recent days by multiplying heinous kidnappings and murders. On Wednesday, members of armed gangs killed six police officers during a major attack on a police station in the north of the country, sparking demonstrations by desperate police officers.
And health centers are not sanctuaries. Four of the officers who died on Wednesday were injured earlier in the day. “went out” by gang members of the clinic where he was being treated “to execute them”according to the police.
Despite this resurgence of violence, MSF currently has no plans to leave the country. “In Haiti, we still enjoy excellent acceptance from the population and the various actors and thanks to this, we manage to work,” Benoît Vasseur explains.
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