Saturday was a day of mourning. With dozens gathered in a shady, green park in the centre of Bangui, a minute’s silence was held at 3 pm. This was the hour a week previously when three of our MSF national staff colleagues, along with thirteen community leaders, were murdered in the supposedly sacrosanct confines of the small MSF hospital in Boguila. They had all come, along with many other community leaders and MSF workers, to attend a meeting to discuss, ironically, the security of the project in this small town in the northwest of the country. Instead, as an armed faction raided the safe in a nearby room, they were shot dead. So, as my two-month contract draws to a close and I prepare to make the enormous adjustment to life back in the UK, my heart is heavy. When will the killing end? When will this country be allowed to start to build itself up again? I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to play a small part in administering to the enormous medical needs of these benighted people, in one of the dozens of MSF projects spread across CAR. But now, for the next week, all these activities will be suspended, in CAR and the neighbouring countries, apart from essential and life-saving ones. MSF hopes by this drastic action to give a clear message to the leaders of the armed groups and everyone else concerned that we need to have a safe space in which to work. That the humanitarian ideal has to be respected.
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