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Central African Republic: "It is not over in our country"

14 Feb 2015

Marvin was one of the first casualties of the Battle of Bangui in December 2013, a battle in which the Seleka rebels opposed the anti-Balaka militia. He was shot in the leg as he tried to protect his property. Treated by Médecins Sans Frontières since the first day, he has had many surgeries over the past year. His last operation was a bone graft.

"When the rebels entered the city, they started looting our house. My mother called me when she saw them breaking the door. Nothing was left behind: they stole our furniture, all our stuff. They shot me as soon as I walked into the house. An armed man was standing right next to my bedroom, he shot me and left. I stood up for a moment, and fell down when I felt a cramp in my right foot. That's when I saw the bottom of my leg was shredded; I could see my bones and my veins. I thought I had died. I crawled on the floor until a neighbour saw me. He brought me to the side of the road and a Médecins Sans Frontières ambulance picked me up."

It has been one year that Marvin has been receiving treatment at the hospital. For one year, he has used wooden crutches to walk in the corridors. To avoid amputation, and because of the bone loss caused by the bullet, an orthopedic surgeon just attempted a bone graft. "It still hurts, because the bones are not consolidated yet, but I would have died if the treatment were not free," says Marvin. Since December 2013, Médecins Sans Frontières has been treating wounded people in hospitals throughout Central African Republic. More than 2,000 people were treated in the first quarter of 2014 alone. In a devastated country – already struggling to meet the health needs of its people before the crisis occurred – the health situation remains dire and many do not have access to basic health care. In January 2015, the Bangui General Hospital is still the only hospital in the city that is able to receive trauma cases 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"It still hurts, because the bones are not consolidated yet, but I would have died if the treatment were not free" 

Anthelme Seka, who coordinates Médecins Sans Frontières activities in the hospital, reports: "Right now, approximately twenty people per day require emergency hospitalisation or surgery. Seventy percent of injuries are caused by road accidents, but each day, we still receive one or two victims of violence and see injuries caused by machetes, knives or bullets. We also have a dedicated unit which treats victims of sexual violence."

While sporadic fighting continues in the capital, the General Hospital is one of the few places in Bangui where Muslims and Christians can live together in peace. "All staff ensures on a daily basis that weapons do not enter the hospital. When a new patient arrives, we explain to him or her that they are here for their injuries, not because of their religion or the armed group to which they belong. This awareness is essential," continues Anthelme.  Marvin concludes: "Violence continues in the neighborhoods. Some are injured, others are killed... it is not over in our country. "