BANGUI (Reuters) - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has suspended all but emergency care in the Central African Republic (CAR) to show its “dismay” at the government’s failure to condemn the killing of 16 people at one of its clinics, the medical charity said on Monday.
Three MSF staff were among those killed in an armed robbery at its clinic in the northern town of Boguila on April 26. At least four others were also killed as the attackers approached the town, a former lawmaker for the area said.
Thousands have been killed in recent months in tit-for-tat intercommunal killings between Muslims and militias from CAR’s Christian majority. Nearly a million have fled their homes.
MSF blamed the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels, who have regrouped in the country’s north since ceding power in January, for the Boguila attack.
“This is not an easy decision but we decided today to take a step after what happened at Boguila. We want to send a strong signal about how unacceptable this is,” Stefano Argenziano, MSF’s CAR mission head, told journalists in Bangui.
The suspension, expected to last a week, will also affect MSF’s non-emergency activities in Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo, the group said.
“We urge the transitional government in CAR and all armed groups involved in the conflict to immediately and publicly condemn this horrific attack,” said MSF’s general director Arjan Hehenkamp said.
The government, in power since January and assisted by thousands of French, African and European Union peacekeepers, has struggled to stop violence in the vast, landlocked country.
MSF workers have suffered 115 security incidents in CAR December 2012, including 31 armed robberies.
Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Louise Ireland